With Children’s Dental Health Month occurring last month, many recent stories in the dental care world have revolved around the rising rates of tooth decay in kids. Advice has been given about ensuring your children are brushing and flossing daily, visiting their dentist regularly, avoiding sugary snacks and beverages, but it’s not very often that you hear to keep bottled water away from your little ones. A recent msnbc.com article, “Bottled water may boost kids’ tooth decay, dentists say,” by JoNel Aleccia, does just that. As more and more families are skipping tap water in lieu of the bottled type, some feel the lack of fluoride might be contributing to the increase in cavities.
According to Jonathan D. Shenkin, spokesman on pediatric dentistry for the American Dental Association, everyone should brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, visit their dentist bi-annually for a check-up and fluoride treatment, and drink tap water for an additional dose of the mineral. Without the tap water, a key component is missing. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have announced that bottled water may not have enough of the necessary fluoride to prevent tooth decay. And it’s no secret that many kids now-a-days are drinking it. A recent study in the Archives of Pediatrics found that about 45% of parents give their kids bottled water exclusively, while a similar study conducted by Pediatric Dentistry journal found the stat to be about 70%. Is it coincidental that at the same time, about 42% of kids from 2-11 in the U.S. have cavities in their baby teeth, according to another CDC study? Some think not. Another interesting fact discovered through the study is that kids of all socio-economic levels were experiencing an increase in decay, so access to a dentist alone cannot be blamed.
To be completely fair to the bottled water industry, it’s important to point out that there hasn’t been any research conducted that directly ties bottled water to tooth decay. Additionally, the industry has taken steps to squelch any rumors by producing at least 20 different fluoridated bottles of water, out of approximately 125 different types sold. Additionally, bottled water does not contain any sugar, which is known to lead to tooth decay. But many dental experts feel that there is a link, however without the proper funding to conduct any research, it is officially undetermined at this point. Still, tooth decay is on the rise, and whether bottled water, poor brushing and/or flossing habits, infrequent trips to the dentist, poor food and beverage choices, or a combination of all of them, is to blame, there’s still one thing we do know. By practicing good oral hygiene habits and proactively seeking out dental treatments, tooth decay can be avoided, and that’s true for people of all ages.