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Research Reveals How Bottled Water Could Harm Teeth

While the researchers don't discourage the use of bottled water, they advise consumers to be picky on the type of bottled water they go for bearing in mind the likely consequences to oral health. Concern over the effect of bottled water on oral health is emerging globally as consumers shift from sweetened soft drinks to bottled drinking water.
A dentist performing a tooth extraction. Many Ugandans may not know that bottled water with high acidity could be the reason their teeoth is being damaged
Researchers continue to link rotting teeth partly to bottled water, which many consumers think is safer. According to the researchers, bottled water could be responsible for causing cavities in consumers’ teeth due to high levels of acidity or potential hydrogen (pH).

While the researchers don't discourage the use of bottled water, they advise consumers to be picky on the type of bottled water they go for bearing in mind the likely consequences to oral health. Concern over the effect of bottled water on oral health is emerging globally as consumers shift from sweetened soft drinks to bottled drinking water.  

Findings from the most recent study were published recently in the journal of Water and Health. The study was on the potential hydrogen (PH) of bottled water commercially available in Australia and its implications for oral health. The study focused on 42 bottled water samples in Australia.

“Of the 42 bottled water samples collected, 81.0 and 73.8% were considered erosive to tooth dentine and enamel, respectively,” says the findings. The researchers noted that their findings were of concern given the risk of sustaining erosive tooth wear from consuming bottled waters.

“In conclusion, some bottled waters are as acidic as juices or soda soft drinks. Flavored waters, sparkling waters, and some spring/artesian waters possess a risk to cause erosive tooth wear”  reads part of the report endorsed by the Water Research Network, a global body bringing together global water professionals.

Other studies observed that while there has been a decline in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, there is more than a 20% increase in total fluid intake from commercially available bottled water during the past decades.

Compared to the consumption of other unimproved water and tap water, drinking bottled water could lower the risk of diarrhea and water lead exposure. Oral health experts are however warning against the consumption of some bottled water brands, especially those with high acidity levels. Water with high potential Hydrogen(PH) can lead to erosive tooth wear. 

Erosive tooth wear means the loss of tooth substance caused by chemical dissolution without bacterial involvement.  Purest bottled water must have potential hydrogen(pH) of 7, which is at the exact center of the pH scale that normally runs from 0-to 14. Particles in the water can change the pH and most water for use has a pH of somewhere between 6.5 and 8.5.

Uganda has also registered a growing number of bottled water packing industries. There were over 40 companies that Uganda National Bureau Standards had certified to package water in bottles. UNBS-certified bottled water should have lead levels of less than 0.01 mg/l far below the maximum levels. 

A bottle of water should have 8 (pH) levels regardless of the size. URN could not independently verify whether all the companies involved in packaging bottled water adhere to the Ugandan and the East African Community standard on packaged water. Dr. Benon Kintu, a Dental surgeon and director of Kampala Dental Services told URN that if the water packaged in Uganda meets the pH 8 requirement, it has no effect on destroying one’s enamel. 

He explained that lack of a proper acid/alkaline balance within a patient’s mouth or pH balance can enable bad bacteria that damage one’s teeth. Dr. Kintu says the basic pH in a person’s mouth should be 5.6 or above for a protective effect on the gums and teeth enamel.  According to Dr. Kintu, high potential hydrogen (pH) levels in our mouths mean high acidity, which breeds bacteria that cause cavities. 

“Ordinarily, our saliva is meant to aid in reducing this acidity, however, some saliva is more acidic than ideal. Alkaline water reduces the acids in our mouth. In doing this, our teeth are less prone to cavities” he said. Apart from water with high acidity levels, Dr. Kintu said some of the fruits like pineapples that are not very ready, oranges, and lemons increase acidity levels in the mouth leading to what he called tooth sensitivity.

He advises a balance between bottled and non-bottled water in cases where one cannot know which brand of water has the recommended pH levels. Meanwhile, the researchers at the international level said there is a need to raise awareness and educate the public on health issues associated with the consumption of acidic beverages including bottled water.

“Although acidification of bottled waters may be unavoidable during the manufacturing process, it is important to launch joint efforts with the manufacturers, government, and communities to raise the public awareness of the oral health consequences and educate the public on healthy hydration,” reads part of the report.