Healthier teeth would result from fluoridating water supplies in Salt Lake County and elsewhere. The county ought to put a measure on the ballot in November to see if residents want to put their mouths where their money is - at least as far as their water bills and dental health are concerned.

It appears Salt Lake Valley residents will have that opportunity, with the Salt Lake City-County Board of Health unanimously recommending a November ballot initiative to the County Commission. Other counties should follow suit, given strong statewide support for fluoridation.A recent Deseret News survey indicated 92 percent of Utahns want to vote on the issue of fluoridation. A substantial majority, 65 percent, said they would favor fluoride in their water, while only 20 percent opposed it.

Though a controversial issue for many years, fluoridation has been validated by scientists as a means to enhance dental hygiene. It especially improves the dental health of children and may be added to water supplies safely and prudently. Studies show a small amount results in a 40 percent to 50 percent reduction in tooth decay.

Even with some households using fluoridated toothpaste or receiving regular doses from their dentists, many in Utah still do not use enough fluoride to help their teeth and the teeth of their children. That is particularly true of low-income families. Fluoridation of public drinking water would compensate in these instances and not harm those who receive fluoride from other sources.

In spite of that, few systems in Utah are fluoridated. Of the 50 states, Utah is an anomaly. Most water systems nationally are fluoridated.

It is past time for the Beehive State to implement this common-sense, safe approach to improving dental health. Residents throughout Utah should vote, and vote yes, on the matter come November.