Promoting oral health in South Africa: public perceptions of water fluoridation.
Public knowledge of water fluoridation (WF), sources of information, purpose of WF and the level of support for the implementation of WF was assessed in South Africa. Of the 2229 respondents interviewed, 23 per cent had heard or read about WF. Almost a third said they obtained their information from schools or community networks while 60 per cent mentioned either radio, newspapers/magazines, or television. About 25 per cent correctly recognized the protection of teeth as the purpose of fluoridation, while two-fifths believed the purpose of WF is to purify water. More than sixty per cent of respondents were in favour of WF, with almost a quarter of the sample feeling uncertain. This study demonstrates that a considerable amount of educational and political action is required for water fluoridation to be implemented in South Africa.