BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW: Community water fluoridation is an important public health intervention that reduces oral health disparities and increases the health of the population. Promotion of its safety and effectiveness is critical to maintaining its widespread acceptance and ensuring its continued use. Dentists are a potentially important source of knowledge regarding the oral health benefits and safety of water fluoridation. However, few dentists regularly discuss fluorides, and water fluoridation in particular, with patients. The authors aim to describe and discuss the role and importance of dentists’ promotion of public water fluoridation, barriers to dentists’ involvement and some approaches that might influence dentists to promote water fluoridation more actively.
CONCLUSIONS AND PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Ongoing promotion of fluoridation by dentists is a key factor in ensuring sustained municipal water fluoridation. However, current undergraduate dental curricula do not adequately prepare dentists for this role, and continuing dental education may be insufficient to change clinical practice. Although smoking-cessation literature can shed some light on how to proceed, changing dentists’ practice behavior remains a largely unstudied topic. Dental associations are a key resource for dentists, providing information that can assist them in becoming advocates for water fluoridation.