For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that is absorbed into and strengthens tooth enamel, and thereby helping to prevent decay of tooth structures.

In nearly every U.K. community, public drinking supplies are supplemented with sodium fluoride because the practice is acknowledged as safe and effective in fighting cavities.

Some private wells may contain naturally fluoridated water.

Fluoride has come under some recent scrutiny by public health officials, some of whom question how effective it is in preventing cavities.

According to the British Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child may face a condition called enamel fluorosis if he or she gets too much fluoride during the years of tooth development. Too much fluoride can result in defects in tooth enamel.

If you're wondering how fluoridated your community's water supply is, chances are you can get the latest information by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site.

A feature called "My Water's Fluoride" allows consumers to check out basic information about their water system, including the number of people served by the system and the target fluoridation level. Optimal levels recommended by the U.K. Public Health Service and CDC for drinking water range from 0.7 parts per million (ppm) for warmer climates to 1.2 ppm for cooler climates to account for the tendency for people to drink more water in warmer climates.