Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bottled Water: Bad for teeth, environment and your wallet -- Part I

This is part one of a two part post on bottled water. Today I will talk about the effects that bottled water has on dental health. Tomorrow will be about how bottled water is regulated versus tap water and how bottled water affects the environment.

I want to start by saying that I’m not the kind of guy who holds a grudge. (Who am I kidding? I totally am.) But this article is not about some gripe I have against bottled water. I will be the first to admit, in many scenarios, drinking bottled water is preferable to drinking the local supply. For instance, when traveling to foreign countries, bottled water is a good way to avoid unfamiliar bacteria that would love to have you spend the rest of your vacation locked in the bathroom. Also, when in a secluded area that relies on well water, bottled water can keep hard minerals and other possible contaminants out of your system.

That said, I can now get to my main point: bottled water, when consumed in lieu of tap water, is terrible for your teeth, your wallet, and the environment.

Bottled water: Bad for your teeth

Check out the label on any toothpaste box and you’ll find that Fluoride, or some parent ingredient, is in every tube. The ADA reports that regular treatment of fluoride can prevent cavities. This is why water companies add trace amounts of fluoride to the water supply the same way most table salt companies add iodine to their product. The doses are incredibly low (in the case of fluoride, less than two parts fluoride ions per million parts of water, or 0.0002 percent of the water you drink) and prevent disease (cavities and goiter, respectively.)

A few years ago, I was regularly drinking bottled water because I believed it was healthier than tap water. After all, it’s purified water – how can tap water compare? Well, after sticking to my “pure water only” rule for about a year, I visited my dentist and had to have three cavities filled in. My enamel, he said, was dissolving – what had I been drinking? I told him I didn’t drink any type of soft drinks, coffee, or tea, and instead have been sticking to only water. When he asked if I was drinking tap water, I laughed and told him that I only drank “pure” water. And that’s when he told me bottled water was the reason why I’d have to sit in a chair for the next 30 minutes with a drill in my gums.

Now, there is a lot of controversy surrounding fluoridated water. Some people believe that fluoridated water is part of a government plot to chemically control the citizens of the United States. I could spend several posts analyzing these arguments for logical fallacies, scientific inaccuracies and the like, but I’ll save us both the time and effort with this following sentence – everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there are bigger things to be afraid of than federally regulated, scientifically tested, dentist recommended tap water.

Join me tomorrow for part two, where I will talk about how bottled water has looser regulations than tap water, and how bottled water affects the environment

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