BOTTLED WATER… Some of the most popular brands of bottled waters have dangerous pH levels and lack essential fluoride, which can cause cavities.
High consumption gives rise to dental treatment costs in billions
It is widely known that soda, beer and coffee are bad for your teeth. Bottled water, however, seems harmless. But dentists warn that is not always the case.
Some of the most popular brands of bottled waters have dangerous pH levels and lack essential fluoride, which can cause cavities.
Also, worldwide, people are eating far too much sugar. This has negative consequences for their teeth and for their purses: seen at the global level, the costs of dental treatment are currently running at around 172 billion US dollars (128 billion euros). In Germany alone, these amount to 17.2 billion euros (23 billion US dollars) a year.
These are the results of a joint study conducted by the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Biotechnology Research and Information Network AG (BRAIN AG) published in the International Journal of Dental Research. The work was carried out within the strategic alliance NatLifE 2020 and was co-financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
For their work the researchers evaluated representative data on the prevalence of caries, inflammation of the gums (parodontitis) and tooth loss, corresponding costs of treatment and the disease burden, as well as data on sugar consumption, in 168 countries for the year 2010. On the basis of this data they calculated the share of total costs attributable to excessive consumption of sugar. In addition to white household sugar, the researchers also focused their attention, in the analysis, to “hidden” sugar that is contained in many processed products, such as soft drinks, ketchup, ice cream and frozen foods, as well as breads, cakes and pastries.
Meanwhile, Dr. Eunjung Jo of Astor Smile Dental in a report published in DailyMailUK Online warned that drinking acidic water will harm your teeth.
However, it is impossible to know from the label which ones are the safest – so we tested the pH levels of nine top brands to see which ones were the best and worst. The pH level can range from zero to 14. On that scale, seven is neutral, anything under that is acidic and anything higher is alkaline.
“We tested nine bottled water brands to see their pH levels. Brands with pH levels closer to zero are more acidic and can erode your tooth enamel. Brands with pH levels between seven and 14 are alkaline.”
“Our enamel starts to erode at a pH level of 5.5 so it’s best to avoid any drinks with a pH that is lower than 5.5.”
Jo also said that the damage done to your teeth increases proportionately with the time you spend sipping on a drink so spending three hours drinking a coffee is more harmful than downing it in 30 minutes.
“The longer you sip and they stay in your mouth, [the] damage is bigger,” she said. The lack of fluoride – a healthy ion that is good for tooth enamel – in bottled water can also be harmful.
Tap water is regulated by the government, which makes sure it has accurate fluoride levels, but bottled water often lacks proper amounts of it.
Dr. Tema Starkman of High Line Dentistry said it is important to make sure you are always consuming fluoride.
She said that this is especially important for children between the ages of zero and five whose teeth are still developing.
If these children do not receive proper fluoride levels they can develop hypo-fluorosis, a condition that can leave white spots on their teeth, she said.
“If they are not drinking a significant amount of tap water and are only drinking filtered, bottled water without measured levels of fluoride, then they could developmentally have problems.”
Proponents of alkaline water say it can boost one’s metabolism, neutralize acid in the bloodstream and help bodies absorb nutrients, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Some say that it can slow the aging process and help prevent diseases.
There is evidence that alkaline water can help prevent bone loss but the Mayo Clinic said that there is not sufficient proof that this effect will last in the long term.
She said there is evidence that drinking tap water is good for children’s teeth.
“The studies say that during the developmental stage of growth for children, accurate fluoride levels in tap water could contribute to healthy enamel formation.”
The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said children who live in communities with non-fluoridated tap water have more decayed teeth than their counterparts who live areas with fluoridated tap water.
The problem also affects adults, Starkman said. “If an adult has a cavity, which is a bacteria that’s entered a part of the enamel that’s weakened, if there is not a source of fluoride in their drinking water, then, definitely, that can contribute to more cavities.”
But she said that people drinking only bottled water can get fluoride from fluoridated toothpaste or rinses.
“Usually when you brush your teeth you’re getting some fluoride from the water in the sink,” she said.
Starkman recommended a balance of bottled and tap water. She said even young children can have bottled water when they are on the go but tap water is good for them to have every day.
The American Dental Association said that drinkers of bottled water may be missing out on the benefits of fluoride.
“Drinking water with fluoride, often called ‘nature’s cavity fighter’, is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do to help prevent cavities,” the association said.