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Assessing Disparities in Community Water Fluoridation Across US States: A Spectral Clustering Approach
* 1 , 2
1  Department of Biomedical and Dental Sciences and Morphofunctional Imaging, University of Messina
2  Department of Economics and Business, University of Catania
Academic Editor: Nunzio Cennamo


Community water fluoridation (CWF) adjusts fluoride levels in public water supplies to prevent tooth decay and promote dental health, irrespective of socioeconomic status or dental care access. Regular sampling by community water systems (CWS) ensures compliance with regulations and standards. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide biennial reports for health statistics surveillance by monitoring CWF status in US water systems. It’s important to note that specific policies and practices related to CWF can vary between countries. Therefore, this research applies the spectral clustering method to group and analyse the reception of fluorinated water by CWS between populations of US countries.

The data from the National Water Fluoridation Statistics (2016-2018-2020) reported by the CDC have been considered. The spectral clustering approach identified five clusters of US countries, which represent the different percentages of the population served by CWS receiving fluorinated water. Among the results, one cluster has the lowest value of the percentage (33.3%) and it includes Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Alaska, and Utah. Conversely, the cluster of countries Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, South Dakota, Georgia, Virginia, North Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, Kentucky, District of Columbia had the highest percentage (96.1%). These findings reveal relevant variations in the implementation of CWF across different US countries, with some states having a notably lower percentage of their population receiving fluorinated water than others. This could inform policy and public health efforts to improve access to fluoridated water and enhance dental health outcomes in areas with lower coverage.

Keywords: Community Water Fluoridation; Dental Health Promotion; Spectral Clustering