Bottled water without fluoride may harm teeth

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 20, 2002

Even though bottled water is convenient, it might affect oral health.

Some brands of bottled water do not contain fluoride, which is added to city tap water.

"Fluoride makes the enamel stronger," said Dr. James Herrick, an dentist in Austin.

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But whether people need to drink fluoride-treated bottled water is debatable.

Children should have fluoride until they are about 12 years old, Herrick said. Adults do not need fluoride, he said.

However, fluoride can prevent tooth decay in people of all ages, said Dr. Richard Hastreiter of Delta Dental Plan of Minnesota.

People in the United States drink about 2.3 servings of bottled water a day, according to a study by Delta Dental Plan of Minnesota, a nonprofit dental service based out of Eagan.

During the summer, families are more likely to drink bottled water because it is convenient, according to Delta Dental.

"Consumers need to be aware when bottled water has fluoride and when ones don't," said Dimitri Senaratna of Delta Dental's communication department.

The International Bottled Water Association lists brands of bottled water and whether they contain fluoride. About 20 United States bottlers sell water treated with fluoride.

"Most of the major brands do have it," Senaratna said.

To find out which bottled water brands contain fluoride visit

But there are other sources for fluoride than just water, said Dr. Travis Schmitt, a dentist in Austin. Mouth washes and toothpastes contain fluoride. Children also can be prescribed fluoride treatments if they live outside city limits, he said.

"There's probably enough fluoride in the environment," Schmitt said.

It is better for children to drink bottled water, even if it does not contain fluoride, than to drink pop or juice, which contain sugar that is more harmful to oral health, Schmitt said.

"The first thing I would say is drinking bottled water or tap water is a non-issue," he said.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at