Some 160 million gallons of drinking water are treated with fluoride every year in Daleville and apparently the city gets it right because its water department won four awards recently for the calendar year 2014 for keeping fluoridation levels at the correct levels.Ashley Vice, state water fluoridation coordinator with the Alabama Department of Public Health, was in the city Dec. 7 to present the award to Mayor Claudia Wigglesworth and Water Department Supervisor Orson Bullard. Vice said the city was presented an award for each of its four wells. Other area water systems receiving awards include Enterprise for nine of its 17 wells and Fort Rucker/American Water Enterprise for three of its seven wells on post.Vice said the city must check the fluoride levels daily at each of its water wells to ensure that the most favorable concentration for fluoride in drinking water stays between .6 and 1.3 parts-per-million. She said it is not an easy thing to do, but the city has worked hard to keep its water properly fluoridated, thus why the award is being given.“In Daleville, all four wells won the award for 2014. These awards are actually given by the Centers for Disease Control and the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors. We track the data for the CDC,” said Vice, adding that all water systems are not fluoridated in Alabama or even in the country. Some water systems, like Daleville, use liquid fluoride, while others use dry fluoride, she said.Vise and Bullard agree that some people do not want fluoride in their drinking water, but both defend its use. “Any time you see information that says fluoride is harmful, it is referring to levels of fluoride that are in excess of 10 times what is being put in our water systems. Our target is .7 and you would never see any negative health benefits at .7,” said Vice. “Fluoride, according to the CDC, is one of the top 10 health achievements of the 20th Century, right up there with immunization and infectious disease control.”For every dollar the city of Daleville spends on fluoridation, it saves customers about $38 in dental care “so you can see how fast that adds up,” said Vice. “It’s extremely cost-effective.” She said that when comparing cities with fluoridated water systems to those with non-fluoridated water, the amount of tooth decay among citizens using water with fluoride is about half that of the other cities. About 75 percent of municipal water systems in Alabama use fluoride, she said.“It’s not required by law which is one of the reasons we like to recognize the water systems that are putting in the time and money to do this for the benefit it gives their citizens. It really is a quality of life indicator,” said Vice. “To do it right, to get the award, is really a challenge for the water operators.”A pamphlet provided by the American Association of Public Health Dentistry states that the use of fluoride leads to an 18 to 40 percent drop in dental decay in persons of all ages; fewer permanent teeth extractions because of decay during childhood; more adults keeping teeth for life; the prevention and reversal of early stages of tooth decay in adulthood; fewer decay on roots of teeth in older adults; lower dental bills; and less dental procedures preventing an excess in drilling procedures and anesthesia use.Daleville spent about a $1,000 in the last year for the purchase of 2,170 pounds of liquid fluoride, according to Bullard.
State Water Fluoridation Coordinator Ashley Vice, left, presented Daleville City Water Department Supervisor Orson Bullard, center, with one of four awards for maintaining proper levels of fluoride in the city’s drinking water. Mayor Claudia Wigglesworth, right, also accepted the awards.