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What's in your water?

Annual water reports include fluoride levels

Between now and July 1, water suppliers nationwide will be supplying consumers with annual Water Quality Reports or Consumer Confidence Reports.

Dental professionals should take this yearly opportunity to check on the status of their community's water—and in particular—its fluoride levels, said Dr. Leon Stanislav, member of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations and chair of the National Fluoridation Advisory Committee.

"Community water fluoridation is still the single most effective means of combating tooth decay," said Dr. Stanislav. "While dental caries remains one of the most prevalent of childhood diseases, it can and does affect people of all ages.

"We encourage dentists to establish lines of communication with local water systems and health departments regarding community water fluoridation," he added. "Once the Consumer Confidence Reports are issued, all stakeholders should review the information for fluoride levels."

Levels of fluoride or other substances, he added, may not be obvious or simple to understand at first glance.

"For example, many consumers would not know that optimally fluoridated water is typically 1 part per million or 1 mg/liter. Local health officials and health care providers should work with local water systems to ensure the benefits of fluoridation are available to the public."

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 online. Water systems are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue these annual reports.

For more information or to view selected CCRs, log on to the EPA Web site at www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/index.html or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site to check on local water system fluoridation status at http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/MWF/Index.asp.

Or contact the local water supplier or the local, county or state health department for more information about the fluoride content of your system's water.

For more information on fluoride and fluoridation, visit www.ada.org/goto/fluoride.