NORTH ATTLEBORO — Supply problems continue to keep the town from adding fluoride to its drinking water.
The water department notified residents in November that a nationwide shortage of sodium fluoride — the chemical added to prevent tooth decay — was forcing the town to suspend treatment.
“It’s still not available,” Mark Hollowell, public works department director, said Wednesday.
It’s not certain when the supply situation will change, but other towns in Massachusetts have cited similar shortages. Not all municipal water systems use the same chemicals. Attleboro, which fluoridates its water, uses a different one, hydrofluosilicic acid, to treat the water supply.
North Attleboro is building a new 2,800-square-foot treatment plant at its Adamsdale well, primarily designed to eliminate PFAS chemicals from the water supply. But it will also allow the water department to add fluoride to the system.
“As soon as it’s available,we’ll put it back in,” Hollowell said.
Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens teeth. It is not required in drinking water for purity or safety, but communities can decide to add it to the supply to improve dental health.
North Attleboro voted to fluoridate its water supply with a 2000 referendum ballot question after a contentious campaign. The question garnered 57 percent support.
The water department’s website says it will notify residents when fluoride is reintroduced. “Residents who may have concerns should contact doctors, pediatricians, or dentists,” it says.