Cleveland Utilities is one of 120 water systems across the state which has been honored with a Water Fluoridation Quality Award by the United States Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Tennessee Department of Health announced the awards on Friday.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said Saturday the award has additional significance for the local community. “Former Cleveland Mayor Willard Park, a local dentist, was very supportive (and involved) in the statewide referendum (during the 1950s) which approved the measure that fluoride be added to municipal water supplies,” said the current Cleveland mayor.
Rowland said Mayor Park also helped with education and awareness for local residents, prior to the start of fluoridation of the community’s water supply.
“This award is just one of many recognitions Cleveland Utilities’ management and employees have received on behalf of the citizens of Cleveland and Bradley County,” continued Mayor Rowland, a member of the Cleveland Utilities board of directors.
Other regional water systems recognized in the announcement include Athens Utilities Board, Dayton Water Department, Englewood Water Department and Etowah Utilities.
CDC also recognized the fact public water fluoridation is one of 10 great health achievements of the 20th century.
“I am pleased these Tennessee communities are being recognized for this important public health initiative,” said Tennessee Commissioner of Health Susan R. Cooper. “Studies have shown fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay among all age groups, not just children.”
Fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride in the public water supply to a level that is optimal for preventing tooth decay. The CDC award recognizes communities which have maintained a consistent level of optimally fluoridated water for the calendar year.
“CDC recommends water fluoridation as a safe, effective and inexpensive method of preventing tooth decay,” said Suzanne Hayes, a dentist and dental director for the Tennessee Department of Health. “Since its introduction more than 60 years ago, community water fluoridation has dramatically improved the oral health of millions of Americans.”
In 2001, the U.S. Task Force on Community Preventive Services recommended communities either adopt or maintain fluoridation of public drinking water supplies. More than 170 million people, or 67 percent of the United States population served by public water supplies, currently drink water with optimal levels for preventing decay.
In Tennessee, 96 percent of the state’s residents have access to optimally fluoridated water.
“Fluoridating a community’s water is one of the most effective public health prevention measures we can take to prevent tooth decay,” said Dr. William R. Maas, director of the CDC Division of Oral Health. “It is also the most equitable, reaching all members of a community, regardless of their income.”
Dr. Maas said it is also the most cost-effective, saving approximately $38 in dental treatment costs for every dollar invested.