A new book from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) shows how salt fluoridation has proven to be one of the most cost-effective public health interventions in history and shows countries how to implement programs of their own.
Promoting Oral Health: The Use of Salt Fluoridation to Prevent Dental Caries was written by Saskia Estupiñán-Day, head of PAHO’s Oral Health Program. The book traces the history of salt fluoridation, first used in Switzerland in the 1950s and later elsewhere in Europe and the Americas. It explains why the practice is better suited to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean than fluoridation of water.
Experience has shown that putting fluoride in salt can reduce dental caries by as much as 84 percent at a cost of 6 cents per person per year. The practice is extremely cost effective, saving an average of $250 per person per year in dental treatment for every $1 spent. It is also highly equitable, benefiting equally rich and poor, young and old, urban and rural dwellers, those with access to professional dental services and those without.
The book provides step-by-step guidance on how to plan, promote, launch, operate, monitor and evaluate salt fluoridation programs. It discusses in detail how the salt industry operates, including its manufacturing and marketing practices, and shows how to win the industry’s cooperation. The book also provides blueprints for legislation, epidemiological surveillance, and biological monitoring that are necessary for carrying out successful programs.
The publication was funded by the Kellogg Foundation, which has supported salt fluoridation efforts throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.