Fluoride has proven to be a valuable mineral when it comes to maintaining the integrity of teeth. Fluoride is found naturally in all water sources.
Studies have shown that fluoride reduces the incidence of tooth decay or cavity formation among children as well as adults.
Moreover, fluoride repairs incipient caries by remineralizing the enamel.
Remineralization is a chemical process where the lost calcium and phosphorous from the enamel surface are replenished by fluoride.
This process strengthens the tooth enamel and reduces the dissolution of the layer.
Water fluoridation was initiated for the first time in the United States of America. About 75% of the people in the U.S drink fluoridated water.
Usually, bottled water is fluoride free unless mentioned on the label. However, many bottled drinks of water are filled from public water supplies and therefore, they may contain fluoride.
The Food and Drug Administration has specified particular levels of fluoride in bottled water, considering the source of water.
Usually, bottled water labeled as de-ionized, purified or distilled may contain zero to some traces of fluoride.
Today’s article will highlight the levels of fluoride present in bottled water and its effects on the dental health of the people.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a type of mineral which occurs naturally in environmental bodies such as water, soil, plants, rocks, and even air.
Fluoride is also one of the crucial mineral components found in the bones and teeth of people.
Fluoride typically has a great significance in the field of dentistry. It is one of the essential minerals that strengthen the tooth structure and prevent cavities in the mouth.
Water fluoridation is one of the most common and widespread means of providing fluoride to the community.
It was first initiated in the United States and was followed in many other countries. (1)
Why is fluoride used in drinking water?
Fluoride is a well-known mineral found naturally in water, which helps to improve dental health.
However, regulating the levels of fluoride in water is essential to prevent overdose and harmful dental effects.
- Suggested read: What is Alkaline Water? – Benefits & Risks
Benefits of adding fluoride to water include –
- Prevention from tooth decay – fluoride remineralizes the weak tooth enamel and repairs incipient caries and reverses the early signs of decay, especially in children. Moreover, fluoride slows down the process of mineral dissolution that commonly occurs while consuming acidic drinks and food.
- Protection from cavity formation – studies have shown that around 25% of the tooth decay is prevented by fluoride.
- Natural way to promote dental health – fluoride is naturally found in tap water which is consumed mainly by people in the U.S. water fluoridation is a process of regulating the levels of fluoride in the water to benefit the dental health of people across the country. (2)
- It is safe and efficient – FDA has certified that fluoride is one of the most effective and most reliable ways of preventing tooth decay and promoting good dental health. Moreover, the health benefits of fluoride are recognized by CDC, AMA, and WHO as well.
- Economical – the average lifetime cost of a person to fluoridate a water supply is less as compared to the value of one tooth filling.
How much fluoride does bottled water contain?
Bottled water may not be sufficient to provide adequate amounts of fluoride.
While fluoride is present in all the public water supplies in the United States, the majority of the bottled water does not contain optimum levels of fluoride unless specified on the label. (3)
Usually, 0.7-1.2 parts per million of fluoride is required to reduce tooth decay and benefit the people in maintaining good dental health.
Bottled water contains less than this level of fluoride. Other factors that may affect the amount of fluoride in bottled water are –
- Amount of bottled water consumed by the public
- Use of bottled water in drinking, cooking or making juices and soups
- Whether you drink fluoridated water in school, at work or by any other means
Usually, people who only consume bottled water may require additional fluoride supplements or treatments to take advantage of the oral benefits.
Your dentist can recommend fluoride drops and tablets, which are suitable for children as well as for adults to receive an adequate amount of fluoride.
Another way of getting fluoride naturally is to filter the tap water if you are germophobic. Home water filtration doesn’t alter the levels of fluoride necessarily.
Is fluoridated water good for health?
Hundreds of research studies done on water fluoridation have proved that fluoride has no potential adverse effects on health as long as the levels are under control.
However, overconsumption of fluoride may cause the following effects –
- Dental fluorosis
- Bone cancer
- Kidney disease
- Low IQ in children
The FDA and CDC have stated that the optimal level of fluoride in water prevents tooth decay.
Additionally, they have declared water fluoridation as the safest and useful source for preventing cavity formation.
At present, around 170 million people in the United States are reported to use fluoridated water every day. (4)
However, if you are not keen on consuming fluoridated water, you can switch to routine dental fluoride treatment.
Additionally, use a fluoridated toothpaste to brush twice regularly. Fluoride mouth rinse is also useful for children above the age of six years.
Take away message
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral which is widely used in dental procedures and products to strengthen the enamel and fight against cavities.
One of the most common sources of fluoride is the public water supply.
Many local water supplies in the United States have facilitated fluoride addition, which can benefit the community on the whole.
While many bottled drinks of water are filled from community water supplies, most of the bottled water does not contain adequate levels of fluoride.
Therefore, people who drink bottled water may have to look for additional fluoride supplements to protect their teeth from tooth decay.
If you are unsure about your fluoride intake, consult your dentist to understand the optimum fluoride levels and different ways of getting the right amount of daily fluoride intake.