Have you ever wondered whether it is safe to brush your teeth with untreated tap water when a “boil water advisory” has been put in place?
A boil water advisory is a public health measure that suggests the possibility of bacterial contamination in the water system, making the water unsafe to drink tap water without boiling it first, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
It is NOT safe to use contaminated water to brush your teeth! Instead, use boiled or bottled water.
To treat water, fill your pot with water and heat it until you see bubbles reach the top. Once you notice a rolling boil, let it continue boiling for one minute before you turn off the heat and let the water cool. Store the water by pouring it into a clean container with a cover.
If you do not have means to boil your water, you can use unscented household liquid bleach to disinfect your water — provided that the water is clear. Add one-eighth of a teaspoon of unscented household bleach to one gallon of water. Mix thoroughly and then wait at least 30 minutes before drinking it. Store the disinfected water by pouring it into a clean container with a cover.
If your tap water is not clear, use a clean cloth to filter the water first. Use one-fourth of a teaspoon of unscented, household bleach to per gallon of water. Again, store the disinfected water by pouring it into a clean container with a cover.
Keep in mind, however, that if the boil water advisory in effect is a result of high turbidity — lots of particles in the water — bleach is not a viable disinfectant. If the advisory in effect says there are Cryptosporidium parasites in the water, bleach will not be very useful. Boil water instead.
Your Community Dental reminds you that if a boil water advisory is place that humans and animals should not drink any untreated water. You may take a shower while taking care not to swallow any water, and do laundry or wash dishes if using the hottest settings. If hand-washing dishes, add a teaspoon of bleach to each gallon of water used.