Skip bottled water and reach for fluoridated water instead


Did you know your bottled water habit could indirectly promote tooth decay? Of course bottled water doesn’t contain sugar or sneaky carbohydrates that turn into sugar and cause decay. But most bottled water also doesn’t contain fluoride either, the magical ingredient that strengthens teeth and prevents cavities.

Most manufacturers treat the water in bottles in such a way that they end up with little to no fluoride. Some add fluoride, but the Food & Drug Administration does not require bottled water manufacturers to list the amount added unless it’s within a set limit.

Bottom line? You can bet, if it’s in a bottle, it doesn’t contain optimal levels of fluoride.

What exactly is fluoride? Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. In the early part of the 20th century, scientists made a fascinating discovery: kids who had more fluoride in their drinking water had fewer cavities. The discovery was significant at the time because back then many children and adults suffered from tooth decay and painful extractions of permanent teeth.

Communities responded by adding fluoride to their water supplies starting in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. Smart move. Over the years, health studies have proven fluoride found in community drinking water is a safe and effective way to prevent and control tooth decay. In some cases, it even reverses tooth decay.

Adding fluoride to community drinking water has been so successful, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named it one of the top 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. Seventy-five percent of the United States served by community water now has access to fluoridated water.

Reach for tap water. Like anything else, bottled water is fine in moderation—but children especially need good old-fashioned tap water with fluoride for healthy teeth.

Topical fluoride in toothpaste and in professional treatments at the dentist office do a good job of preventing tooth decay, but the addition of systemic fluoride (ingested in tap water) completes the gold standard in cavity prevention.

So the next time you grab a glass of water for your child, consider getting it straight from the sink or through a filtering system in your refrigerator. You’ll not only help your child’s oral health, you’ll be doing something good for the environment.

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