April 23/Lab Law Weekly -- Five billion gallons of bottled water were consumed in 2000, an increase of more than 200% from a decade earlier. Whether consumers drink more bottled water because it is an alternative to soda, or because it is convenient to do so is unclear, but one thing is certain: they are missing out on the valuable fluoride found in tap water, which helps to protect teeth from cavities, according to a study published in the January/February 2009 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical, peer-reviewed journal.
Researchers tested the fluoride content in more than 100 different samples of bottled water, which fell into six categories: distilled, drinking/purified, spring/artesian, mineral, fluoride-added and flavor-added. Of the total 105 samples, the fluoride concentrations in the majority of the samples fell below the U.S. government's recommended range of 0.7-1.2 parts per million (ppm), the ideal range to prevent cavities. Only five samples met the recommended range.
Lead author of the study, Ryan L. Quock, DDS, recommends that consumers speak with their dentist about their primary drinking water source. "Understanding consumers' water drinking habits is extremely important," he says. "Determining if they are drinking appropriately fluoridated water, especially when they have or are at risk for cavities, is crucial information, because fluoridated water is an automatic way for them to help improve their oral health. Talking to them also allows us to have a conversation about fluoride's effects, mainly focusing on its relationship to dental caries and fluorosis."
Receiving the appropriate amount of fluoride is critical to consumers' oral health -- especially children's oral health -- as it strengthens the teeth and protects them against cavities. Patricia Meredith, DDS, MS, FAGD, AGD spokesperson, advises parents to do their research before handing their child a water bottle.
"Parents should be in charge of how much bottled water their kids drink, in order to make sure that that they also receive the proper amount of fluoridated water that will keep their teeth healthy," says Meredith. Fluoride in toothpaste, water supplies and other oral hygiene products is one of the basics of keeping children's mouths healthy, Meredith adds. "With soda and energy drinks being as popular as they are, not to mention the attractiveness of sugary snacks, children's mouths are constantly fighting cavity-causing bacteria. Something as simple as drinking water from the tap is a no-nonsense and cost-effective way to prevent cavities."
The AGD supports the use of fluoride and adopted a position statement based on the Center for Disease Control's Recommendation for Using Fluoride, which states, "When used appropriately, fluoride is safe and effective in preventing and controlling dental caries. Regular use throughout life will help protect teeth against decay. All water supplies, including bottled water, should have appropriate fluoride levels. All fluoridated items, including toothpaste, should be used as recommended by your dentist."
From the April 27, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition