The increased consumption of bottled water throughout the country is attributed by the industry itself to the Baby Boomers -- a generation that has become increasingly health and fitness conscious. Bottled water sales for 2000 in the U.S. were reported at $5.7 billion and are expected to increase 15 percent annually over the next several years.
Even with bottled water the healthier beverage of choice, Baby Boomers and other consumers may be neglecting another area of wellness: their oral health -- if they are drinking non-fluoridated bottled water.
Drinking water is good, and in fact, is better for your teeth and gums than soft drinks and other high-sugar, high-acid beverages, states Dr. Billie Sue Kyger of Gallipolis, Ohio, president of the Ohio Dental Association. However, if the primary source of water is bottled, check the label for fluoride, she advises -- and if it contains no fluoride, or does not meet recommended levels, then check with your dentist about how to best supplement the needed fluoride and help protect your teeth. "Fluoride has long been recognized for preventing tooth decay in children and adults. It is a mineral, and one of the most natural benefits you can give to your mouth," Kyger said. "It is nature's cavity fighter, and very important to your oral health." The same holds true, she said, for those who drink non-fluoridated tap water.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommended concentration of fluoride sufficient to protect against tooth decay is 0.7-1.2 parts per million. Comparatively speaking, one part per million equals one inch in 16 miles, one cent in $10,000, or one minute in two years.
The ADA states that research indicates fluoridated water reduces cavities in all age groups, including up to 35 percent in adults and seniors. Research also indicates, the ADA reports, that tooth decay remains a threat into later years and that the incidence of decay will increase as today's baby-boom population ages -- and that fluoride is an especially strong benefit to older adults.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) further validates this in its fact sheet, "Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States."
"Fluoride also benefits adults, decreasing the risk of cavities at the root surface as well as the enamel crown. Use of fluoridated water and fluoride dental products will help people maintain oral health and keep more permanent teeth." The CDC explains the role of fluoride: "Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process. It keeps the tooth enamel strong and solid by preventing the loss of (and enhancing the reattachment of) important minerals from the tooth enamel."
The International Bottled Water Association reports there are now at least 20 brands of bottled water on the market that contain fluoride, and suggests consumers contact the manufacturers for information on fluoride levels within their products, if it is not on the label.