February 24,

Fluoride in Drinking Water

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Fluoride in Drinking Water

How is fluoride beneficial to my dental health?

Fluoride is a natural element found in rocks, soil, and water.  Fluoride can greatly help dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, which makes it more resistant to tooth decay. It also reduces the amount of acid produced by the bacteria on your teeth produce, making teeth easier to clean.

How is fluoride beneficial to the overall dental health of my community?

Fluoride has been added to public drinking water supplies around the world for more than half a century, and is well-supported by scientific evidence. The City of Peterborough began fluoridation of municipal drinking water in 1973. The fluoridation of drinking water is a well-accepted public health measure which protects all members of a community regardless of age, socioeconomic status, education, employment, or dental coverage. Fluoridation of municipal water supplies is particularly beneficial to the underprivileged and the hardest to reach, for whom other preventive measures may be inaccessible.

Another benefit of water fluoridation is the reduction of dental care expenditures. It is estimated that the cost of dental care in Canada reached $11.4 billion in 2007, making it the second largest expense in the privately funded health care budget, after pharmaceuticals.

Can too much or too little fluoride in drinking water be harmful?

Drinking water with levels of fluoride which are too high can lead to dental fluorosis, a condition which causes white spots on the teeth. While it may be unattractive, fluorosis is generally not a health risk.  In severe cases, the teeth may become pitted, and require treatment by a dentist.

If you do not have routine access to fluoride in your drinking water, you may discuss alternative sources of fluoride with your dentist, doctor, or Public Health.  You can also check the website of the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) for more information.

What are optimal fluoride levels in drinking water?

Optimal fluoride concentration is 0.7 milligrams per litre (mg/L), or 0.7 parts per million (ppm). The maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) is equal to 1.5 ppm (mg/L).

What can I do to ensure my municipal drinking water supply has optimal levels of fluoride?

Fluoridated municipal drinking water supplies are carefully controlled and monitored to ensure safe levels of fluoride.

Privately-owned wells may have naturally-occurring fluoride in the water. You can test the levels of fluoride and other minerals in your well water with an accredited laboratory. Sample bottles are provided by the laboratory or at our Public Health free of charge, and there is a $50 fee for testing. The contact information for the nearest laboratory accredited to test fluoride levels in drinking water is:

SGS Canada in Lakefield
185 Concession Street
Lakefield, ON
Phone: 705-652-2000

A list of accredited laboratories in other areas can be found at:

Drinking Water Ontario

Related Links to Fluoridation of Drinking Water:

Health Canada: Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality: Technical Document – Fluoride

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care: Statement from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health on Drinking Water Fluoridation

Last modified on Jul 26, 2016