The head of the bottled water industry in Australia has rejected claims bottled water is to blame for an increasing incidence of tooth decay in children.

Giving evidence to an Upper House inquiry into dental services in New South Wales, the executive director of the Australian Bottled Water Institute, Tony Gentile, says while some dental experts have made the link, it is nonsense.

He says most children drink tap water, which usually has fluoride added and those who drink bottled water are more wealthy children whose parents can afford good dental care.

Mr Gentile says while the industry is open to changing laws that ban adding fluoride to bottled water, they would fight any move to make it compulsory.

“We don’t believe that our beverages should be used as medicine, they are refreshment beverages. If you believe that the vast majority of the NSW population is constipated, would you get us to add a laxative to the water?” he said.