Successful implementation of community water fluoridation via the community diagnosis process

David E. Brumley, Rebecca W. Hawks, James A. Gillcrist, Jennifer U. Blackford, William W. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: This paper describes the community diagnosis process and how it was used to implement community water fluoridation in Tennessee. Methods: Public health dental staff developed a survey instrument to collect community-specific data on the oral health status of schoolchildren. Key survey findings were presented to county health councils who were determining and prioritizing the health needs of their communities. Results: Community-specific data showed higher caries levels in children without access to an optimally fluoridated community water supply. Presentation of local survey findings to county health councils resulted in fluoridation being a high-priority health issue in several counties. With health council support, opposition to fluoridation by utility district officials was overcome when decision makers were challenged with local survey findings. The community diagnosis process resulted in the successful fluoridation of six community water systems serving a total of 33,000 residents. Conclusions: The community diagnosis approach was successful in implementing community water fluoridation in geographic areas historically opposed to this public health measure. The success of these fluoridatin initiatives was attributed to: (1) current, community-specific assessments of children's oral health; (2) identification of communities with disparate oral health needs, problems, and resources; and (3) effective presentation of community-specific oral health survey data to community leaders, stakeholders, and decision makers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-33
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Public Health Dentistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Caries prevalence
  • Community diagnosis
  • Fluoridation
  • Oral health survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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