WASHINGTON — Companies can claim that drinking bottled water with fluoride prevents cavities, the government said Wednesday.
The Food and Drug Administration said it would allow bottlers of fluoridated water to make the health claim, in a notice dated Oct. 14 but posted Wednesday to its Web site.
The claim _ specifically, that fluoridated water may reduce the risk of dental cavities or tooth decay _ is not intended for use on bottled water marketed to infants, the FDA said.
Many bottled waters already contain fluoride, and by law are labeled as such. About two-thirds of the U.S. population that relies on public water systems gets fluoridated water from the tap. Many toothpastes also include fluoride.
The surge in popularity of bottled water has led dentists and others to fear that people, especially children, who avoid tap water and drink exclusively non-fluoridated bottled water face a greater risk of developing cavities.
Fluoride can prevent, slow and in some cases reverse tooth decay. People who live in communities with fluoridated drinking systems have 15 percent to 40 percent less decay, according to the surgeon general.