BOTTLED WATER COULD DEPRIVE KIDS OF BENEFITS OF FLUORIDATED WATER
-Connecticut caregivers more likely to give children tap water for fluoride benefits-
PARSIPPANY, N.J. — April 10, 2013 — The bottled water ‘craze’ could be depriving children of fluoridated tap water that is critical to good oral health, according to a recent study by Delta Dental Plans Association.
The survey revealed that nearly 60 percent of caregivers nationwide say they are more likely to give children bottled water than tap water. In addition, according to the 2013 Delta Dental Children's Oral Health Survey1, more than twice as many caregivers say bottled water is better for children’s oral health than tap water – an opinion at odds with evidence-based dentistry and more than six decades of public health experience.
Only 17 percent of parents believe that tap water is better for their children’s oral health than bottled water.2 Some bottled waters do contain fluoride but usually not in the optimal amount.3 Fluoride in the water provides decay-preventive benefits for the teeth of both children and adults, which makes it the most cost-effective way for communities to improve overall oral health.
Connecticut Caregivers Prefer Tap to Bottled
Connecticut caregivers, however, differ significantly from their national counterparts, according to the survey. Connecticut respondents were more likely to give their child tap water (53% vs. 41%) and were less likely to think bottled water is better for their child’s oral health (26% vs. 36%). Connecticut caregivers also tended to be more knowledgeable than other Americans regarding whether their community water supply is fluoridated (30% vs. 45% “don’t recall”). Additionally, more Connecticut respondents surveyed report their community water supply is fluoridated (51% vs. 42%).
Fluoride Effective in Fighting Tooth Decay
“It's very important that children get fluoride on their teeth daily to prevent tooth decay,” said pediatric dentist Douglas B. Keck, D.M.D., M.S.H.Ed. of Pediatric Dentistry Associates and national spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “Fluoride is absorbed into the tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to decay.”
Fluoride actually helps to repair (remineralize) tooth surfaces that are damaged by the acid produced by certain bacteria in the mouth, which prevents cavities from continuing to form.4 Since U.S. cities began adding fluoride to water supplies more than 65 years ago, tooth decay has decreased dramatically.5 This result led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to name water fluoridation “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”6
“The key to fluoride’s protective benefit is having a little fluoride on your teeth throughout the day,” Dr. Keck said. “Brushing teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, drinking fluoridated water and limiting frequent between-meal snacking on sugary or starchy foods will help keep most children and adults tooth decay-free.”
The Right Amount of Fluoride
For advice on the proper amount of fluoride specifically recommended for your child, consult with your dentist. The recommendation will depend on your child’s age, how much fluoride naturally occurs in your local water and your child’s risk for tooth decay.
As with other vitamins and minerals, it’s important to get enough, but not too much. When young children whose teeth are still developing under their gums (up to about age nine) get too much fluoride, their teeth may erupt with faint white lines or patches called dental fluorosis. The CDC has reported an increase in dental fluorosis over the past couple of decades. Inappropriate swallowing of toothpaste and children living in fluoridated areas that also receive fluoride supplements are believed to play a major role in this increase.
If Your Water is Not Fluoridated:
Tips to Get Fluoride into Children’s Diets
Nearly 45 percent of caregivers do not know if their water supply is fluoridated.7 And although 75 percent of people in the United States with access to community water supplies enjoy the benefits of fluoride, there are still some communities that choose not to add the mineral to their water. To find out the fluoridation status of your local water supply, contact your city water department or your local water provider.
If children don't drink fluoridated water, Delta Dental offers these ways to get more fluoride into their diet:
About Delta Dental
Delta Dental of New Jersey Inc. is New Jersey’s leading dental benefits company, providing or administering coverage to more than 1.5 million people through contracts with employers in New Jersey and Connecticut. In Connecticut, Delta Dental Insurance Company writes dental coverage on an insured basis and Delta Dental of New Jersey administers self-funded dental benefit programs. The Delta Dental system offers seamless dental benefits administration for employer groups throughout the country and has the largest network of dentists in the nation. For more information, visit www.deltadentalnj.com.
1 Morpace Inc. conducted the 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey. Interviews were conducted nationally via the Internet with 926 primary caregivers of children from birth to age 11. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of error is ±3.2 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.
2 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey (same as above)
3 “Policy on Bottled Water, Home Water Treatment Systems, and Fluoride Exposure.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/2095.aspx Accessed 2010.
4 http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/benefits/background.htm, updated 2012.
5 http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/fact_sheets/cwf_qa.htm#2, updated 2012.
6 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4850bx.htm, 1999.
7 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey (same as #1)