Americans drink an average of 30 gallons of bottled water each year. Water is essential for washing away cavity-causing bacteria and diluting harmful acids that wear away enamel. Water also prevents dry mouth which can increase your risk of tooth decay. Most importantly, water is calorie-free, sugar-free, and can be drunk in abundance without harming your teeth. While water is critical for oral health, bottled water isn’t considered up to par with its supplemented counterpart.
Unsatisfactory Bottling Standards
Bottled water is a popular beverage choice for hydration due to its quality, safety, great taste, and convenience. However, while it’s deemed a food product by the Food and Drug Administration, the standards set by the FDA are not as strict as you would think. Bottled water has been found to harbor several hazardous chemicals including Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the formation of plastic water bottles.
Fluoride in Minuscule Levels
Another major issue with water bottle use is the absence of fluoride. Unlike tap water that contains supplemental fluoride designed to prevent tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks, bottled water often lacks suitable levels of this mineral. This lack of fluoride is especially hazardous to children with developing teeth. However, not all bottled water is devoid of fluoride. Fluorinated bottled water is now available to encourage bottle-drinkers to drink enough fluorinated water.
The Presence of Harmful Bacteria
Most people are drawn to bottled water for its “pureness.” However, new studies have shown that bottled water may contain more bacteria than tap water. While bottled water is not expected to be completely free from microorganisms, some brands were found to harbor up to 100 times more bacteria than the permitted limits. Contaminants in water can result in adverse health effects like gastrointestinal illnesses.
Effects on the Environment
Another major concern surrounding bottled water is its negative impact on the environment. As landfills continue to grow to colossal sizes, waste management becomes more of a concern. Americans throwing away billions of plastic water bottles has only exacerbated the problem. The good news is that some brands are doing their part to reduce waste by introducing recyclable or reusable bottles.
Bottled vs. Tap: The Final Verdict
The battle between bottled water and tap water is ongoing. However, when it comes to the health of your teeth, tap water is typically the superior choice. Tap water is cheap, safe, easily accessible, and contains fluoride to prevent tooth decay. It also contains some healthy minerals and may even taste good depending on your location. While the occasional bottle of water is not dangerous, drinking only bottled water could put your dental health at risk.
It’s important to remember that the teeth require fluoride to rinse away food debris, dilute acids, and protect against demineralization which occurs when bacteria in the mouth combines with sugars. It’s also vital to note that fluoridation does not affect the taste, appearance, or smell of drinking water. While bottled water is great when on-the-go, tap water is the ultimate choice for long-term dental health.