As more and more people choose bottled water over tap water, dentists say they are missing out on fluoride.
Fluoride is a mineral that’s proven to prevent and sometimes reverse tooth decay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fluoride is commonly found in toothpaste and mouthwash, and it is also found in tap water.
Since the mid 1940’s fluoride has been added to tap water to expose people to the fluoride needed for basic dental health. Quincy dentist Maria Connoyer says fluoride is most important to develop stronger teeth.
“It actually gets to be a part of the tooth,” Connoyer said. “It becomes part of that forming tooth. It helps make it stronger, makes it more resistant to decay and helps re-mineralize that. So if you’re not getting enough fluoride during those formative years, your teeth are going to be more cavity prone your whole life time.”
Connoyer says getting adequate fluoride levels in children between six to 14 is especially important.
Though fluoride levels are regulated in tap water to make sure people get enough to promote healthy teeth, bottled water does not have to include fluoride. Shay Drummond with the Adams County Health Department says this is why many dentist are worried residents are not getting enough fluoride.
“It is a concern with bottled water as they don’t label necessarily what minerals or what the content of any fluoride, if there is any in that bottled water,” Drummond said. “So if parents are electing to provide bottled water for their family or children, they may want to make sure that they are using a fluoridated toothpaste or mouth rinses.”
Drummond says she believes the adding of fluoride to water is the best health initiative in the country as it is the cheapest way to prevent tooth decay.
Too much fluoride can actually have negative effects, according to the CDC. Residents using well water can run the risk of getting too much fluoride. Connoyer says, however, do not be too worried about getting to much fluoride.
“There is a lot of information on the internet saying that it can cause various diseases and breaking the bones, but that is at such an extreme level of fluoride that we just don’t see that within our community or within our patients,” Connoyer said.
Connoyer says if a patient is worried, they should get their well water tested just to see what levels of fluoride they may have.
Connoyer suggests teaching kids to drink tap water at some point in the day besides bottle water to make sure they are getting adequate fluoride levels. She also doesn’t recommend ever using non fluoride toothpaste. She says using fluoride toothpaste will protect the teeth against acidic foods and drinks.