Friday, March 7, 2014

Another (Preventable) Epidemic

A recent USA Today article tells about the latest problem that has been dubbed a national epidemic, tooth decay in children.  “Tooth decay is largely preventable, but it remains one of the most common diseases of childhood — five times as common as asthma, and seven times as common as hay fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Such news is interesting for many reasons.  First, the recommendation about brushing very young children’s teeth has changed.  Instead of brushing with only water, they now recommend using a small smear of toothpaste.

Second, here is another epidemic where parental responsibility plays an important role.  Like the obesity epidemic, parents must be informed and involved to bring this problem under control, starting when the children are young to establish proper dental hygiene habits and later to monitor what their children eat and drink, especially those energy drinks and monster drinks.

Surprisingly though, no mention is made of the bottled water mania.  They do point out the importance of fluoride in cavity prevention.  “There are lots of water supplies where fluoride is naturally occurring, but the majority are not, so fluoride is added to the water to help as the teeth are forming.”  When parents insist on serving bottled water, for reasons of taste, convenience or supposed safety and health benefits, they are doing their children a disservice.  First, there are no valid safety concerns as this article thoroughly explains. 

The American Dental Association agrees that not only is fluoridated water safe and effective, they recommend the use of supplements by those who don’t have access to it.  “Individuals who drink bottled water as their primary source of water could be missing the decay preventive effects of optimally fluoridated water available from their community water supply.”

Furthermore the Mother Nature Network explains that bottled water is  “expensive, wasteful and — contrary to popular belief — not any healthier for you than tap water.”  They don’t even mention missing out on that important nutrient, fluoride.  

Yet, for some mysterious (illogical) reason, annual bottled water sales are now around 10 billion gallons and climbing.  This new “epidemic” is just one more reason for people to understand the foolishness of these purchases and behave accordingly.

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