Delta Dental survey examines public perceptions of fluoridated water

Nearly 60% of parents and other guardians of children say they are more likely to give children bottled water than tap water, potentially depriving kids of fluoride that is critical to good oral health.

Nearly 60% of parents and other guardians of children say they are more likely to give children bottled water than tap water, potentially depriving kids of fluoride that is critical to good oral health. In addition, according to the 2013 Delta Dental Children’s Oral Health Survey, more than twice as many caregivers say bottled water is better for children’s oral health than tap water — an opinion at odds with evidence-based dentistry and more than six decades of public health experience.

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"It's very important that children get fluoride on their teeth daily to prevent tooth decay,” said Dr. Bill Kohn, Delta Dental’s vice president for dental science and policy. “Fluoride is absorbed into the tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to decay.”

Since U.S. cities began adding fluoride to water supplies more than 65 years ago, tooth decay has decreased dramatically.

Unfortunately, only 17 percent of parents believe that tap water is better for their children’s oral health than bottled water. Some bottled waters do contain fluoride but usually not in the optimal amount.

“The key to fluoride’s protective benefit is by having a little fluoride on your teeth throughout the day,” Dr. Kohn said. “Brushing teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, drinking fluoridated water and limiting frequent between-meal snacking on sugary or starchy foods will help keep most children and adults tooth decay-free.”

Nearly 45 percent of caregivers do not know if their water supply is fluoridated, although 75 percent of Americans benefit from fluoridated water.

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