Saturday, April 18, 2009

Is Bottled Water a Threat to Dental Health?


The short answer is perhaps.
Five billion gallons of bottled water were consumed in 2000, an increase of more than 200 percent 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 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 recommend 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 childrens’ 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 Dr. Meredith. Fluoride in toothpaste, water supplies and other oral hygiene products is one of the basics of keeping children’s mouths healthy, Dr. 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.”

Of course, it really depends upon your community water suppply and whether it is fluoridated or not. So, the best approach is to consult with your local dentist and tailor a program of fluoride supplements to your individual situation.

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  1. Traces of arsenic, copper, lead and other impurities are found in chemicals used to fluoridate public water supplies, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (1)

    Arsenic was detected in 43% of the 245 diluted water fluoridation chemicals sampled by NSF International between the years 2000 and 2006 which regulates public water supply additives. (2)

    Arsenic may increase cancer risk, according to the EPA which sets the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal of arsenic in water supplies at zero.(3)

    Also 3% of the samples contained copper; 2% contained lead; and less than 1% contained barium, chromium, mercury, selenium or thallium. Silicates, the second most prevalent substance in fluoridation chemicals, are not health regulated.

    Although no radionuclides or beryllium were found in these samples, 0.4 parts-per-billion is allowed.

    Bottled water suppliers, who add fluoride, typically follow the same standards, according to the CDC. (1)

    Community water fluoridation uses industrial-waste fluoride (silicofluorides). However, pharmaceutical grade fluoride may also be contaminated. According to the CDC, “Given the volumes of chemicals used in water fluoridation, a pharmaceutical grade of sodium fluoride for fluoridation could potentially contain much higher levels of arsenic, radionuclides, and regulated heavy metals than a NSF/ANSI Standard 60-certified product [the standard that water fluoridation chemicals must meet].”

    The FDA regulates bottled water. But it’s almost impossible to know how much fluoride is in the bottle, unless you call the manufacturer, because:

    -- Domestic bottled water with no added fluoride may contain between 1.4 and 2.4 mg/L fluoride

    -- Imported bottled water with no added fluoride may not contain fluoride in excess of 1.4 mg/L.

    -- Domestic bottled water with added fluoride can contain between 0.8 and 1.7 mg/L fluoride

    -- Imported bottled water with added fluoride may not contain more than 0.8 mg/L fluoride.

    Bottlers are not required to list any naturally-occurring fluoride on the labels.(1)

    There is strong evidence that even tiny amounts of some metals can contribute to aggressive or antisocial behavior, says Neil Ward, a professor of chemistry at the UK’s University of Surrey. (6)

    (1) US Centers for Disease Control, Community Water Fluoridation, Fact Sheet on Questions About Bottled Water and fluoride, date last updated February 25, 2008

    (2) NSF Fact Sheet on Fluoriadtion Chemicals, February 2008

    (3) US Environmental Protection Agency, Arsenic in Drinking Water, accessed April 8, 2009

    (4) US Centers for Disease Control, Community Water Fluoridation, Water Fluoriodation Additives, modified and reviewed December 1, 2008



  2. The anti-fluoride folks strike again.

  3. Nyscof here knows his way on this topic and what he had said facts about bottled water to dental health.

  4. Can't really draw any conclusions from this myraid of disjointed facts though.

    His point is?

    All flouridated water is bad?