32 American Dental Association in taste, clarity, purity and safety than tap water. Only 24% of caretakers of children and adolescents knew whether or not fluoride was in their drinking water. The authors concluded that perception of the qualities of water were responsible for choices of drinking water.108 Similar findings have been echoed in earlier studies.109-111 Additionally, cultural influences can affect drinking water preferences. In some Latino communities, parents were less likely to give tap water to their children because they believed tap water would make them sick based in part on the fact that many have come to the U.S. from places with poor water quality where water- borne illness was common.111 Besides missing the decay preventive effects of fluoridated tap water, it has been determined that families spend hundreds of dollars more each year on purchasing water than if they were to consume tap water.109,111 16. Can home water treatment systems such as water filters, reverse osmosis and water softeners remove fluoride from drinking water? Answer. Some types of home water treatment systems can reduce the fluoride levels in water supplies. Individuals who drink water processed by home water treatment systems as their primary source of water could be losing the decay preventive effects of optimally fluoridated water available from their community water supply. Fact. There are many kinds of home water treatment systems including reverse osmosis systems, distillation units, water softeners and water filters such as carafe filters, faucet filters, under the sink filters and whole house filters. There has not been a large body of research regarding the extent to which these treatment systems affect the fluoride content of optimally fluoridated water. However, it has been consistently documented that reverse osmosis systems and distillation units remove significant amounts of fluoride from the water supply.112,113 Studies regarding water softeners show clearly that the water softening process does not significantly change fluoride levels.114,115 With water filters, the fluoride concentration remaining in the water depends on the type and quality of the filter being used, the status of the filter and the filter’s age. Most carbon filters do not remove fluoride. However, some filters containing activated alumina can remove significant amounts of the fluoride. Additionally, some filters containing bone char also can remove significant amounts of fluoride.113,116 Accordingly, each type of filter should be assessed individually. Individuals who drink water processed by home water treatment systems as their primary source of water could be losing the decay preventive effects of optimally fluoridated water available from their community water supply. Therefore, it might be necessary to contact the installer, distributor or manufacturer of the water treatment system or water filter in question to determine whether the item removes fluoride. Information regarding the existing level of fluoride in a community’s public water system can be obtained by asking a local dentist or contacting the local or state health department or the local water supplier. If the consumer is using a private well, it is suggested that it be tested yearly for fluoride levels. Additional information on this topic can be found in this Section, Question 4.
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