Edmontonians serviced by the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant may want to step up their brushing.
Epcor is currently upgrading the treatment plant by replacing the four bulk fluoride storage tanks. This process, which got underway on Tuesday, is expected to take several months with the completion date slated for around March 2020.
While the tanks are being switched out, fluoride will no longer be added to the water, which will impact approximately 280,000 customers in the city’s northwest, south and surrounding areas.
Those living around the Rossdale Water Treatment Plant will still get fluoride in their water.
Audrey Cudrak, director of the Edmonton water treatment plant, said the tanks reached their end of life and needed to be switched out.
She said the water remains safe to drink and residents won’t notice a change in taste.
“We did look into an option that would allow us to continue adding the fluoride while the construction was going on,” she said. “But we just found — being an active construction area — that it just wasn’t possible to (continue) dosing the fluoride and monitoring it at the same time.”
She said changing the tanks, which are taller than a person, can be challenging because the room where they are located is fairly small.
Cudrak said Epcor contacted Alberta Health Services about the temporary stoppage and it recommended residents in the area use fluoride toothpaste and schedule regular dental checkups.
The city has had fluoride in its water since 1967, however, not all communities have followed suit. Calgary, for instance, stopped fluoridating in 2011.
Dr. Bruce Yaholnitsky, president-elect of Alberta Dental Association and College, said residents may see a slight increase in dental decay over that period but nothing too significant. He said proper home care will still be important including using fluoride toothpaste.
“If they have the ability and the means to see the dentist, (they could) get a fluoride rinse that they can use in the next six months just to keep that topical part of the treatment working,” he said. “(Fluoride in the water) treats a universal population. It doesn’t worry about social or economic status. It helps probably the most vulnerable the most. It helps prevents tooth decay and in turn, lowers dental costs or in general our health costs.”
Yaholnitsky added fluoridated water doesn’t replace regular dental care but is simply an additional measure to prevent tooth decay.