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Water fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride levels in the community water supply to the optimum level to protect oral health. By simply drinking tap water in communities with a fluoridated water supply, people can benefit from fluoride's protection from decay.
Research for the past 60 years has shown community water fluoridation to be safe and the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay in adults and children.
If your local water supply is not fluoridated, you can still gain the benefits of fluoride through other sources. To help prevent cavities, you should make sure that your toothpaste contains fluoride.
You might want to also ask your dentist about:
- Fluoride supplements (tablets or drops)
- Fluoride mouth rinses
- Topical fluoride gels
The easiest and most accurate way to find out if your community's water is fluoridated is to contact your local water company and ask.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website also has a page My Water's Fluoride that allows consumers in participating states to learn the fluoridation status of their water system.
If most of your water comes in the form of bottled water, you are missing out on the valuable fluoride found in tap water, which helps to protect teeth from cavities. In most cases, the fluoride concentrations in bottled water (even in some that are fluoridated) fall below the U.S. government's recommended range of 0.7-1.2 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride, the ideal range to prevent cavities. If you drink mostly bottled water, you should talk to your dentist about fluoride supplements (tablets or drops), fluoride mouth rinses and topical fluoride gels.