Could Bottled Water Be Damaging Your Smile?
Consumer demand for bottled water has skyrocketed in recent years due in part to the alleged benefits of staying properly hydrated. Weight loss, an improved complexion, and reduced toxins are all benefits you can expect from drinking eight glasses of water a day - or so we've been told. Whatever the truth behind these claims, dentists have raised a concern about bottled water that may have you thinking twice about using it as your primary thirst buster. It turns out that most bottled water does not contain fluoride, a cavity-fighting mineral that is found naturally in water and soil. Does this mean you should ditch your Aquafina® and head to the sink every time you get thirsty? According to many dental experts, that depends on how well you take care of your teeth overall.
Why Your Tap Water May Be Spiked with Fluoride
In 1945, the government began adding fluoride to community water supplies to reduce the prevalence of tooth decay. The move was spurred by studies showing that people who drank from water supplies containing natural sources of fluoride had fewer cavities. Today, 67 percent of the U.S. population has access to water that is treated with fluoride. Studies in the U.S. and other countries have shown that people who live in communities where water fluoridation is used experience 15 to 40 percent less tooth decay. So significant have been the benefits of public water fluoridation, in fact, that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the technology stands as "one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century."
Does Drinking Bottled Water Contribute to Cavities?
The dental community's concern over bottled water stems from the fact that most brands do not contain fluoride. The filtration process used by beverage companies to improve the taste of water usually eliminates any fluoride contained in the water. As to the question of whether drinking bottled water contributes to the development of cavities, the Centers for Disease Control says that depends on several factors. A person's oral health is the product of many factors, only one of which is the amount of fluoride he or she gets. Moreover, fluoride is contained in many products besides water, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and food, and is used in some dental treatments as well. In other words, simply drinking bottled water instead of tap water doesn't guarantee that you'll develop tooth decay as a result.
The Bottom Line:
If you normally drink bottled water, you need to be sure you're getting enough fluoride from other sources; otherwise, you may end up having to visit your dentist more frequently than you'd like.
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