SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA- Considering most cavities can be pinned on sugary treats and a lack of good dental hygiene, bottled water doesn’t seem like a likely source of tooth decay. However, the resurgence of cavities in Americans suggests otherwise.
Before you accept the notion that cavities must be inevitable, hear this. The U.S. began adding fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral that fortifies teeth’s protective enamel layer, into public drinking water systems in the 1940s. This decision was based upon mounting evidence that showed fluoride guarded against tooth decay, since it helped to strengthen the enamel. Currently, about 65 percent of Americans have fluoridated tap water.
Despite its smile benefits, some skeptics oppose fluoridated tap water. However, the American Dental Association and other health authorities promote its use. Shortly after fluoride’s introduction into public drinking water, the occurrence of cavities dipped dramatically. Research contends that fluoridated tap water reduces cavities in children by 8 to 37 percent and in adults by 20 to 40 percent. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention even called the fluoridation of tap water among the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.
Here’s the issue – filtered tap water and bottled water does not contain fluoride. This is bad news for your teeth, since their popularity is surging. Since the rise of bottled waters (use has doubled over the past 10 years), there’s been a suspicious spike in cavity occurrence. More research is needed to confirm the connection, but it’s safe to say that more Americans opting for filtered bottle water over tap is to blame for the increase in cavities and tooth decay, most notably in children.
We aren’t implying that you should ditch your favorite bottled brand. Although we suggest that drinking water with fluoride content is the best decision for your family’s oral health, there are other ways to expose teeth to fluoride.
First and foremost, visit your dentist every three to six months for a thorough professional cleaning and fluoride treatment. At our San Francisco office, treatment is as simple as brushing a clear and pleasant tasting gel onto teeth. After a few minutes of drying, you can go about your day and eat or drink whatever you please. Dr. Greg Larson also recommends a few tips you can do at home.
“For your enamel’s sake, avoid consuming a lot of acidic foods and beverages,” says Dr. Larson. “Also, brush teeth twice daily with a fluoridated tooth paste.”
Dangerously acidic foods eat away at the enamel, which leaves teeth more susceptible to cavities and severe decay. Food and beverages that are famous for their acidity include white wines (Riesling and Pinot Grigio are the worst), sports drinks, soda and citrus fruits. When you do eat or drink these, be sure to consume plenty of water. Water (fluoridated or not) will help to rinse away lingering acid in the mouth and keep your enamel strong.
If you have any questions regarding our fluoride treatments or how to best protect your teeth from cavities, contact us. Greg D. Larson, DDS is a trusted provider of smile solutions like teeth whitening, restorations, dental implants and cosmetic dentistry in San Francisco.
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