WEDNESDAY, AUG. 1 (HealthDay News) -- On grocery store shelves and kitchen counters alike, bottled water has become a staple of the American dietary landscape.
But, some experts say it may contribute to diminished dental health.
While most bottled water manufacturers declare that their products are 100 percent "pure," "clean" or "natural," few brands contain one ingredient that most Americans take for granted: fluoride.
A salt formed from the combination of fluorine and soil and rock minerals, fluoride is voluntarily added by the vast majority of states and/or local municipalities (rather than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), to public water supplies across the United States.
The goal: to help reduce the risk for dental cavities.
When it comes to bottled water, the decision to add or not to add fluoride is left entirely up to individual manufacturers. Most do not.
And with Americans now consuming about 8.4 billion gallons of bottled water each year, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp., some experts say that turning away from tap water means more cavities and worse dental hygiene.
Concern are most acute when it comes to children.
Dr. Burton Edelstein, president of the Children's Dental Health Project in Washington, D.C., and a professor of dentistry and of health policy and management at Columbia University in New York City, describes the increasing prevalence of tooth decay among young children as "alarming."
"[Today] one in 10 2-year olds, one in five 3-year olds, one in three 4-year olds and approaching half of 5-year-olds have visually evident tooth decay experience," he said, adding that "the consequences in terms of pain, infection, dysfunction and unmet treatment need are significant."
But where does bottled water fit in, if at all?
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