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Bottled Water May Be Causing Tooth Decay in Kids


The New York Times recently reported on the uptick of cavities and other tooth decay in preschoolers necessitating dental surgery, with causes attributed to too many sugary beverages and constant snacking. But now, dentists are agreeing on a third possible cause: kids drinking bottled water over fluoridated tap water.

Plus: Is your child getting enough fluoride?

Jonathan D. Shenkin, a spokesman for pediatric dentistry for the American Dental Association, said flouride comes from three sources: brushing your teeth daily with fluoridated toothpaste, getting twice-yearly flouride treatments from dentists and getting fluoride from tap water. “If you’re not getting it in your drinking water, that takes out a component of the effectiveness of that triad,” he said to MSNBC. The CDC also warned that bottled water may not have enough fluoride in it.

Plus: Caring for your preemie's teeth

Seventy percent of parents give their kids bottled water in addition to tap, according the journal Pediatric Dentistry. Bruce Dye, a dental epidemiology officer for the National Center for Health Statistics, said that a variety of factors, in addition to drinking bottled over tap water, contribute to tooth decay. But it's important for parents to do what they can to prevent this in their kids, because, says Dye, "When you have tooth decay in your baby teeth, you will have tooth decay in your permanent teeth."

To keep kids cavity-free, New York City-based pediatric dentist Dr. Lawrence Limb recommends:

  • seeing a dentist regularly
  • drinking fluoridated water (bottled water generally has little to no fluoride)
  • eating a balanced diet
  • reducing the frequency of snacking
  • paying attention to proper oral hygiene (including regular brushing and flossing)
  • avoiding sharing utensils or putting your child’s pacifier in your mouth, as tooth decay can be contagious