Background: Community water fluoridation (CWF) is currently experiencing social resistance in Canada. Petitions have been publicly registered, municipal plebiscites have occurred, and media attention is growing. There is now concern among policy leaders whether the practice is acceptable to Canadians. As a result, this study asks: What are public opinions on CWF?
Methods: Data were collected in April 2008 from 1,005 Canadian adults by means of a national telephone interview survey using random digit dialling and computer-assisted telephone interview technology. Descriptive and bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were undertaken.
Results: Approximately 1 in 2 Canadian adults surveyed knew about CWF. Of these, 80% understood its intended use, approximately 60% believed that it was both safe and effective, and 62% supported the idea of having fluoride added to their local drinking water. Those with greater incomes [OR=1.4; p<0.001] and education [OR=1.6; p<0.001] were more likely to know about CWF. Those with greater incomes [OR=1.3; p<0.03] and those who visited the dentist more frequently [OR=1.8; p<0.002] were more likely to support CWF, and those with children [OR=0.5; p<0.02], those who accessed dental care using public insurance [OR=0.2; p<0.03], and those who avoided fluoride [OR=0.04; p<0.001] were less likely to support CWF.
Conclusion: It appears that Canadians still support CWF. In moving forward, policy leaders will need to attend to two distinct challenges: the influence of anti-fluoride sentiment, and the potential risks created by avoiding fluoride.