The next time that you visit your dentist, don’t be surprised if, when discussing a daily oral care routine for you and your family, he advises you to start drinking more tap water. This especially holds true if you have an ongoing problem with cavities.
Yes , you heard that right…you are probably not getting enough tap water into your system. You know what I’m talking about; that much maligned, mis-understood crystal clear liquid that flows out of your kitchen faucet. We cook with it; we wash our hands with it and we also brush our teeth with your average, everyday tap water. You don’t have to think about it. It is automatic.
But, we don’t drink the stuff as much as we used to. With the bottled water revolution that has overwhelmed America, over the last decade, tap water has definitely taken a back seat as far as our drinking habits go. And that could be a major mistake when it comes to promoting good oral hygiene.
Sure, bottled water is trendy and it tastes great. But, no matter how cool your favorite brand may be; the one thing that’s missing from most bottled waters is the cavity fighter known as FLUORIDE.
Across the country, most Dentists consider fluoride to be the “superman” of cavity fighting. There are few weapons in your medicine cabinet or in your Dentist’s arsenal that are more powerful than fluoride.
Fluoride strengthens your tooth’s enamel and prevents tooth decay. Big time. Tooth decay is as horrible as it sounds. Nasty doesn’t even begin to describe what it does to your teeth. Pure and simple, this is a disease that breaks down tooth enamel. Bacteria then forms on your teeth,causing cavities to appear. Ouch! That hurts!
When Plaque (bacteria) is left on the teeth, over a long period of time, it will harden. At this point ,using a toothbrush and an over the counter toothpaste,just won’t cut it. In all likelihood, you’ll need to see a Dentist to have that mess on your teeth professionally removed. That procedure will cost you money and time; as well as some discomfort. If you can avoid all that,why wouldn’t you?
Gum decay, severe inflammation and even gingivitis can occur when one’s tooth enamel is worn away. The laundry list of problems is endless.
Fluoride not only strengthens your tooth’s enamel it remineralizes your teeth, when they have been damaged by acid.
And that’s when water comes in….how much you drink as well as the source of the water. The real question is; tap or bottled water ?
Hard water, straight out of your kitchen or bathroom tap,contains many of the minerals that Dentists feel are VITAL to build up your enamel as well as fight off tooth decay.
In addition to having calcium, magnesium and phosphorous in it; Hard water just seems to taste better than it’s soft counterpart. For one thing, hard water doesn’t have that slightly salty aftertaste. A great Fluoride-strong toothpaste, together with hard water makes for a very potent preventive oral care combination.
As a parent, you can give your kids a real step-up on their oral health by mixing their favorite juice drinks with fluoridated tap water. Bring out the cool, club mixologist in you and find the right blend of water and juice that your little one’s will love.
Fluoride exists naturally in most water sources. It is derived from fluorine,which can be found in the earth’s crust. Wonderful though it is; fluoride can do many things but it cannot repair cavities. By reversing tooth decay, though, it CAN help prevent NEW cavities from forming.
Many experts feel that one of the major reasons why cavity rates have plummeted over the last fifty years is due to the fact that, most communities in America have fluoride in their town or cities’ water supply. This public health program is called community water fluoridation. And it has been a rousing success, according to most Dental professionals. Generations of Americans have grown up drinking their community’s tap water, which has been infused with fluoride. Contrary to popular belief, fluoridated tap water is completely safe to drink, as long as there is no emergency or contamination going on.
But In the late nineties, with the bottled water craze picking up full steam; the habit that most Americans had, of filling up a glass with tap water when they were thirsty, began to change. Bottled water does have many good things going for it. However, most bottled water products contain little or no fluoride. During the filtration process, fluoride may even be removed from the water.
Of Course, we are all happy that the water purification system filters out sediment and chemicals that we most certainly don’t want to ingest while we are quenching our thirst. But, some good ingredients like Fluoride can get lost in the process,as well.
The good news is that, several companies in the industry have taken notice and you can now purchase fluoridated bottled water. If you don’t want to give up all the bottled water that’s already in your Fridge, then speak to your Dentist. He or she will ,if they feel it’s necessary, prescribe special fluoride drops, tablets or other supplements.
Another source of fluoride is varnish. You can request that your Dentist apply a varnish treatment to your teeth during a regular check-up. The varnish contains sodium fluoride and is tasteless,but highly effective. The varnish works with your saliva to protect your teeth.
It is always best to talk things over with your Dentist and make sure that you are not overdoing the fluoride. As with most things in life, moderation is the key to better health.
Children are in more danger of accidental overexposure to fluoride than adults. Without proper parental supervision, it’s easy for small children to swallow too much toothpaste while brushing or mistake mouth rinse for their favorite drink. If your child is an infant,you may want to call your local Department of Health and check the fluoride levels of the water supply. Water is frequently used to reconstitute baby formula. Your pediatrician or Dentist can recommend a ready to feed formula that contains no fluoride at all.
Some bottled water products DO have a little fluoride in them, but not much. Just check the label. Certain boutique brands incorporate minerals like calcium into their water. Bottled water is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who insist that bottling companies clearly list the fluoride content, if any on the label.
We live in an era where we have become used to living with frequent change. It’s part of our life-style. Products that we have used for years and take for granted, are constantly being improved. Sometimes, we don’t even recognize these products anymore, when we look for them on the store shelves.
But, once in awhile, being old-school is still the way to go. That’s why, when it comes to good oral health and the tried and true benefits of fluoride in our local water supply; tap water wins out over the bottled variety, each and every time.
This is a decision, though, that you, in partnership with your Dental professional, will have to make. Do your research; ask questions of both your Dentist AND your community’s Department of Health and choose what is the best option for your family and your life-style.