Nearly 60% of caregivers say they are more likely to give children bottled water than tap water, potentially depriving kids of fluoride that is critical to good oral health.
In addition, according to the 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey1, more than twice as many caregivers say bottled water is better for children’s oral health than tap water – an opinion at odds with evidence-based dentistry and more than 6 decades of public health experience.
“It’s very important that children get fluoride on their teeth daily to prevent tooth decay,” said Dr. Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dental’s vice president for dental science and policy. “Fluoride is absorbed into the tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to decay.”
Fluoride actually helps to repair (remineralize) tooth surfaces that are damaged by the acid produced by certain bacteria in the mouth, which prevents cavities from continuing to form2.Since U.S. cities began adding fluoride to water supplies more than 65 years ago, tooth decay has decreased dramatically3. This result led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to name water fluoridation “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”4
Unfortunately, only 17 percent of parents believe that tap water is better for their children’s oral health than bottled water1. Some bottled waters do contain fluoride but usually not in the optimal amount5. Fluoride in the water provides decay-preventive benefits for the teeth of both children and adults, which makes it the most cost-effective way for communities to improve overall oral health.
“The key to fluoride’s protective benefit is by having a little fluoride on your teeth throughout the day,” Dr. Kohn said. “Brushing teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, drinking fluoridated water and limiting frequent between-meal snacking on sugary or starchy foods will help keep most children and adults tooth decay-free.”
For advice on the proper amount of fluoride specifically recommended for your child, consult with your dentist. The recommendation will depend on your child’s age, how much fluoride naturally occurs in your local water and your child’s risk for tooth decay.
1 Morpace Inc. conducted the 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey. Interviews were conducted nationally via the Internet with 926 primary caregivers of children from birth to age 11. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of error is ±3.2 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.
2 http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/benefits/background.htm, updated 2012.
3 http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/fact_sheets/cwf_qa.htm#2, updated 2012.
4 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4850bx.htm, 1999.
5 “Policy on Bottled Water, Home Water Treatment Systems, and Fluoride Exposure.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/2095.aspx Accessed 2010.