The Bottled Water Boom & Your Child’s Teeth

Dental Care for Kids

Dr. James Hallam of Laurentian Dental Centre Kitchener

Dr. James Hallam, Laurentian Dental, Kitchener

Keeping you child’s gums and teeth healthy requires more than just daily brushing and flossing. During a check-up, your child’s dentist might inquire about your drinking water supply. That’s because fluoride, a substance naturally found in water, plays an important role in cavity prevention and the healthy development of children’s teeth.

Fluoride combats tooth decay in two ways. It strengthens the tooth enamel, the hard shiny substance that protects the teeth, so that it can better resist the acids formed by plaque. Fluoride also allows teeth damaged by acid to repair, or remineralise themselves. While fluoride can’t repair cavities, it can reverse low levels of tooth decay, which could prevent new cavities from forming.

Young boy drinking bottled water.

Fluoride combats tooth decay

Though fluoride benefits adults, it is especially critical to the health of developing teeth in children. Tooth decay remains one of the most common diseases of childhood and one that can be avoided.

Some communities have naturally occurring fluoride in their water while others add it at water processing plants. Today, many parents purchase bottled water for their families to drink instead of municipal tap water.

The growing bottled water industry claims that bottled water Is safer, purer, mineral-free, and better tasting and that could be true in some cases. Most bottled waters though, lack fluoride. Also lacking in fluoride are sports drinks and soft drinks, which kids often sip throughout the day. These drinks can cause significant damage to a child’s teeth because the liquid bathes the hard-to-clean areas of the teeth in sugar for long periods. Even after the pop or sports drinks have been swallowed, harmful acids continue to eat away at the teeth.

“While fluoride can’t repair cavities, it can reverse low levels of tooth decay, which could prevent new cavities from forming.”

Soda contents include a high fructose corn syrup, additive dye, acid and caffeine. An average can of soda pop has approximately 10 – 12 tsp or 40 – 48 grams of sugar, in addition to carbonic or phosphoric acid. The carbonic or phosphoric acid dissolves the calcium out of the tooth enamel, leaving a softened matrix for bacteria to enter a child’s teeth and cause wholesale carious destruction. So drinking sugar-free soda pop is not the answer. If you couple this with poor oral hygiene, you have an oral disaster in the making.

Families living in non-fluoridated areas or who only drink non-fluoridated bottled water should discuss supplements with a family or pediatric dentist. The dentist can help you understand more about how fluoride affects the teeth, and once all your child’s primary teeth have come in, may further strengthen them by applying regular topical fluoride treatments during dental visits.

Yours for better dental health,

This article has been updated from it’s original posting in August of 2012.

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