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What’s in your water? Check annual water reports now

April 02, 2016

By Michelle Manchir

Between now and July 1, water suppliers nationwide are required to make available annual Water Quality Reports or Consumer Confidence Reports, giving dental professionals and all consumers the opportunity to check on the status of their community’s water, including its fluoride levels.

The reports, which detail quality and content of water, may be mailed to consumers’ homes, often with the water bill, published in local newspapers — or posted on community or water supplier websites.

“A provider needs to understand a patient’s total fluoride exposure and fluoride in drinking water is the largest contributor to total fluoride exposure,” said Kip Duchon, national fluoridation engineer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  “Annual Consumer Confidence Reports are the easiest source on actual fluoride levels that dentists can reference. I would encourage each dentist to request the annual consumer confidence reports from all the water systems serving the areas where patients in their practice live and verify that water system is in fact ensuring the best health outcome for the community by maintaining correct fluoride levels.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires water systems to post these annual reports at EPA.gov/CCR. Consumers can also visit the “My Water’s Fluoride” page on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to check on local water system fluoridation status.

Community water fluoridation in the U.S. continues to grow. The CDC in March reported that nearly 74.7 percent of the U.S. population on community water supplies — or about 214.2 million people — received the benefit of fluoridated water in 2014.

Photo of Dr. Howard Pollick
Dr. Pollick
The ADA encourages dental professionals to use their Water Quality Report as an opportunity to open a dialogue with their local water system. “It is a great opportunity to thank water system staff for the role they play in fluoridation and to request a tour of the facilities to learn more about their local water treatment process,” said Dr. Howard Pollick, National Fluoridation Advisory Committee member, ADA fluoridation spokesman and health services clinical professor in the department of preventive and restorative dental sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Water system staff members are experts at the engineering and regulations specific to their local water system, but often are not familiar with the role they play in the dental and overall health of the community, according to Dr. Pollick. Contact with dental professionals for water system staff offers an opportunity to reinforce the value of community water fluoridation.

The ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations offers resources and training opportunities for dentists in communities working to initiate or retain fluoridation. For more details visit ADA.org/fluoride or contact Jane McGinley, CAPIR’s manager of fluoridation and preventive health activities, by emailing mcginleyj@ada.org.