If you can't leave home without one, you're probably one of the people responsible for making the U.S. the single biggest consumer of bottled water in the world. In fact, U.S. residents drink more bottled water each year than any other beverage except carbonated soft drinks. Mexico, China, Brazil and Italy round out the top five consumers.
That being said, it's entirely possible your children may drink nothing but bottled water, as many households cook with it as well. This could mean the fluoride kids ingest from the public water system in many communities, never reaches them. Depending on which side of the ongoing debate about fluoride you're on, that's a good thing or a bad thing.
The Hatfield's and McCoy's had a greater chance of resolving their differences than do those for or against fluoride in water. The American Dental Association has long supported fluoridation where water systems are lacking. "In some situations you may see as much as a 40% greater chance of decay without fluoride," says Dr. Mark Wolff, Chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at New York University College of Dentistry. On the other hand, organized lobbying groups against fluoridation claim point out fluoride is has been linked to arthritis, allergies, kidney and thyroid dysfunctions, bone damage and even cancer.
Whether you want fluoride in your drinking water or not, here's the dilemma faced by people who rely solely on bottled water. Some bottled water has fluoride because it occurs naturally, some bottled water doesn't have fluoride because it has been taken out and some bottled water has had fluoride added to it. So, how do you tell the difference?(bottledwater.org)
If there is less than .6 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, no labeling is required.
On the other hand, bottled water containing between .6 milligrams and 1 milligram per liter may bear the following claim: "Drinking fluoridated water may reduce the risk of (dental carries or tooth decay.)" Since most bottles for individual consumption are 8 ounces, you need to divide the milligrams by 4 to gauge the amount of fluoride in a single bottle.
Remember, according to the FDA too much fluoride, more than 2 milliliters per liter, can trigger a condition known as "fluorosis", which results in a brown staining or pitting on the permanent teeth. To find out exactly how much is in a bottle, you may want to check out a bottled water producer's website. "The fluoride levels in our products are spelled out in quality reports for all our brands posted on our company and individual brand websites," says Jane Lazgin of Nestle Waters North America, the largest provider of bottled water in the U.S.You can also dial a company's toll-free number and ask for the information or where best to access it. (nestle-watersna.com/Menu/OurBrands/Quality+Process/Quality+Reports.htm)
Just how much fluoride is optimum for kid's dental health? According to the ADA, ½ to 1 part per million is ideal. This may just beg the question whether there is any correlation between childhood cavities and bottled water consumption. "Data is hard to find," admits Dr. Wolff. He goes on to say there are still 100-million Americans living in areas without
fluoride, either naturally occurring or added. Parents in those locations should ask their dentists about fluoride supplements. Not knowing the ins and outs of all of this could have you singing the bottled water blues, no matter where you stand on the fluoride debate.
(If you want to see more of my stories go to: nbcnewyork.com)