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Bottled water – fluoride + kids = bad teeth?

Aug 03, 2012

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Did you know that Americans drink approximately 8.4 billion gallons of bottled water annually? That’s good.

Some bottled water brands include fluoride but many don’t. The decision to include fluoride is solely up to individual manufacturers and those that do include it add less than the recommended amount. That’s bad.

It’s bad because some dental experts suspect that American households increased consumption of bottled water may be contributing to the rise in children's tooth decay, a trend they call “alarming.”

“Available studies show that most bottled waters have less than 0.3 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride, well below the accepted level for optimally fluoridated drinking water,” said Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, an American Dental Association spokesman and Augusta, Maine-based pediatric dentist.

A proponent of fluoride’s benefits, Dr. Shenkin nevertheless cautioned about faulting the increased consumption of bottled water for the increase in children's cavities. “There has been no research to show using bottled water causes tooth decay,” he acknowledged.

Dr. Burton Edelstein, president of the Children’s Dental Health Project in Washington, D.C. and a professor of dentistry and health policy at Columbia University, agrees with Shenkin. “Some have attributed this increase (in cavities) and prevalence to bottled water substitution. But that remains conjecture as other factors – increased sugar in diets, changes in demography, dental intervention – may account for the change,” he said.

In 2009 the journal Pediatric Dentistry published an Eastern Virginia Medical School study finding that nearly 70 percent of parents surveyed said that they gave their children bottled water to drink, either exclusively or along with tap water.

Many parents say they prefer bottled water due to fears of tap water contamination, convenience, and a preference for the taste and smell of bottled water.  Nearly two-thirds of those parents surveyed said they had no idea whether or not the bottled water they gave their children contained fluoride.

Shenkin says even if parents think to look to see whether or not bottled water contains fluoride they would have a hard time finding out. “There are no (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration requirements that the amount of fluoride be labeled on bottled water unless it has been added during processing,” he said.

American water utilities have been fluoridating public water supplies since 1945. Fluoridated tap water is credited with reducing tooth decay by nearly 25 percent, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed water fluoridation as one of the top 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Sources: US News & World Report, Fox News, HealthDay

Copyright 2012, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC © 

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