People seeking information on whether their water system is fluoridated can now find out by visiting a new Web site at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): http://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/data_systems/index.htm.
The new feature, “My Water’s Fluoride,” allows consumers in participating states to check out basic information about their water system, including the number of people served by the system and the target fluoridation level. Optimal levels recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC for drinking water range from 0.7 parts per million (ppm) for warmer climates to 1.2 ppm for cooler climates to account for the tendency for people to drink more water in warmer climates.
States that are currently participating include Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
“One of the recommendations of last year’s CDC report, Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States, was to provide people with information about the fluoride content in their community’s drinking water,” said Dr. William R. Maas, a dentist and director of CDC’s oral health program. “This new feature will make it easy for consumers to find this out. It will aid both consumers and health professionals in determining the fluoride content of their drinking water so they can assess whether additional sources of fluoride should be used to help prevent tooth decay.”
One of the recommendations of the 2001 CDC Fluoride Recommendations was for parents of young children under age 6 to know the fluoride concentration in their child’s drinking water in order to consider whether to change their child’s fluoride intake. In some communities where the natural fluoride concentration is below optimal levels, this could mean considering fluoride supplements, while in communities where the fluoride level is above 2 parts per million, parents may want to use alternative sources of drinking water for young children.
A second new feature is “Oral Health Maps,” a geographic information system (GIS) application. These maps provide state or county profiles with selected demographic and water fluoridation information for participating states. Both new features obtain their data from the Water Fluoridation Reporting System (WFRS), a Web-based monitoring tool for state and tribal oral health and water fluoridation managers.
Fluoride, a naturally occurring element in the environment, is known to be effective in preventing tooth decay in children and adults. Over the past several decades, fluoridation has played an important role in the dramatic reduction of tooth decay and has been identified by CDC as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.