Whether due to distaste or distrust of city water supplies, Americans are getting more of their drinking water from bottles instead of the tap. Some dentists worry they’re seeing the consequence: a rise in children’s tooth decay.

“The problem is that most bottled waters have essentially no fluoride in them,” said George Acs, chairman of dentistry at the Children’s National Medical Center in the District. “I work in an area where many families use bottled water products” — this use, he said, cuts across economic lines — “and we have one of the highest decay rates in children in the country.” The center’s typical new patient, age 6, has five or six teeth with cavities — a “staggering” number, he said.

Nearly half of all Americans drink bottled water daily, according to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), getting about a third of their average daily 5.3 cups of water from bottled products.

While the IBWA denies that increased consumption causes dental problems, newer products are responding to public concern. Fluoride-added waters are sold by about 20 U.S. bottlers, said Stephen Kay, IBWA’s vice president of communications. (Dannon’s Fluoride To Go was introduced last year as the first fluoride-enhanced bottled water marketed to children.)

Acs called the sales of fluoride-enhanced water “a great idea” for families that rely on bottled water. Traditional thinking “has been that children from six months to 13 years derive the greatest benefit from systemic fluorides . . . but we know that even adults benefit from fluoridated water,” he said. In children, fluoride gets incorporated in teeth; in adults, saliva recirculates fluoride, protecting teeth topically.

Other recent news on fluoridated bottled water:

WFMY 2 News

February 5, 2002

Consumer Reports Evaluates Bottled Water with Fluoride


Bottled water drinkers have something new — bottled water with fluoride.

Consumer Reports has taken a look at them.

Many dentists, including Nancy Oriyani have seen the benefits of fluoride up close.

“We are seeing a lot less and less cavities since fluoride has been added to the water supply,” she says.

The American Dental Association says fluoridated water — along with fluoride treatments at the dentist and toothpaste with fluoride –has meant lots of children don’t get any cavities at all.

Consumer Reports’ Dr. Marvin Lipman agrees fluoride is important. And he points out not everyone is getting enough.

“We are seeing a lot less and less cavities since fluoride has been added to the water supply,” he says.

Most bottled water you see on store shelves does not contain fluoride.

However, Dannon has just come out with Fluoride to Go, which targets kids.

Other companies also sell fluoridated water in sizes ranging from small bottles all the way up to 5-gallon jugs for your home.

“If your tap water is fluoridated, you’re getting enough protection,” Lipman says.

But if it’s not, or you’re drinking a lot of bottled water, then the American Dental Association says that you should drink fluoridated bottled water.”

Some experts say you should look for a brand that tells you how much fluoride you’re getting. Not all do. You want “one milligram per liter”.

But dentists like Dr. Oriyani say — don’t expect fluoride to do the job alone. You’ve still got to brush and floss every day.

It is also possible to buy fluoride supplements for children.

But consumer reports cautions you should check with your dentist first.

Too much fluoride can cause white spots on the teeth and even pitting of the enamel.


Letter sent to Consumer Reports from David Lamar, Mountain View Citizens for Safe Drinking Water:

Dear Ms. Halloran
Director, Consumer Policy Institute

First let me thank you for providing a very valuable service to consumers over the years. I’ve throughly enjoyed reading your reports, especially prior to a significant purchase in order to get an unbiased report.

Recently, I saw a report from your organization which endorsed fluoride in bottle water without any warning on the label. I was suprised to see that Consumers Union would endorse the addition of a drug without appropriate warnings over overdosing. Dosage warnings are on every drug.

Although water fluoridation is still hotly debated, there is no debate that excessive fluoride causes tooth discoloration, pitting and other damage.

Although most people don’t consider fluoride a drug, here’s what the federal government said in December of 2000 in a written response to the US House Committee on Science. The FDA stated, “Fluoride, when used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or animal, is a drug that is subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation.”

Most suprisingly, there is no FDA approval of any fluoride compounds. The endorsement by Consumers Union of a non approved drug for bottled water without any dosage recommendation is quite….. well, unsettling.

If you would be so kind to read the letter Consumers Union sent to a spokesman for fluoridation a few years ago, it would help provide perspective. http://www.nofluoride.com/consumer_union.htm

I understand the recommendation has already been made but I’m very concerned for the health and well being of our children as well as the families that rely on your advice.

Perhaps a small article discussing the advantages and disadvantages…..

I truly appreciate your time and do hope the information I provided is helpful. If possible, I would like to hear from you.

Most sincerely,
David Lamar
Mtn. View, California