The quality of your water can affect not only your health but also your teeth. It might sound like a myth, but the truth is that the level of nutrients in your water can affect whether or not you get cavities. Good teeth depend on good nutrition, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day!
1. Fluoride and Chlorine
Fluoride is a mineral that is found in most water supplies. Fluoride strengthens teeth by making them more resistant to bacteria. Although the effect of fluoride on cavities has been debated, many experts agree that it can be effective. Today, adding fluoride to community water systems is the only public health measure proven to work in preventing tooth decay, however too much fluoride in water makes it no longer safe to drink, so it’s best to filter water every time before drinking it. Chlorine can break down into several different compounds, one of which is hydrochloric acid, which can cause erosion of tooth enamel. To avoid exposing your teeth to these harmful effects, brush your teeth after drinking tap water, don’t drink tap water through a straw, and drink bottled or filtered water, if you are concerned about the effects chlorine, might have on your teeth’s health.
2. Sulfur Compounds
Hydrogen sulfide and related sulfur-containing compounds are a natural part of the water from underground aquifers. In high concentrations, however, these compounds are toxic to the liver and nervous system as well as damaging to tooth enamel. Sulfur bacteria can also produce hydrogen sulfide when they break down organic material under anaerobic conditions. To reduce your exposure to hydrogen sulfide, don’t use hot tap water for drinking or cooking since it contains higher levels of the chemical than cold tap water does. Also, avoid using very old plumbing that may contain lead or other metals that could leach into the water supply.
3. Iron Chelating Agents
Calcium ions help prevent deposits of iron, manganese, and other metals in household pipes. These chemicals require the presence of an “ion” to keep the scale from building up; metal water pipes are filled with mineral deposits that cause problems when they form. Scientists have used this knowledge to reduce the amount of deposit build-up by adding chelating agents like EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) or citric acid to the tap water. This causes the calcium in your water supply to bind with fatty acids so it can’t join with heavy metals found in your water supply. This is good for you because it helps with cavities, but it isn’t so good for you if you live in an area where the water contains high levels of heavy metals.
Lead is commonly found in water supplies due to corrosion of plumbing systems. Unfortunately, lead poisoning can severely damage the brain and kidneys as well as cause high blood pressure, miscarriages, and other problems. Lead also builds up in bone over time. To reduce your exposure to lead, avoid using hot tap water for drinking or cooking since it contains higher levels of the chemical than cold tap water does. Also, run the cold tap for one minute before using it for drinking or cooking which can help flush out any lead that may be present in older plumbing systems. You could also buy a filter that reduces the number of heavy metals found in your water supply by at least 95%.
5. Other Water-borne Contaminants
Other contaminants like arsenic, uranium, radon, and industrial chemicals are commonly found in local water supplies. As with lead, these substances are found in higher concentrations when the water has been sitting for a few hours or has come from far away. Also similar to lead, many of these contaminants can cause heart disease as well as cancer. If you suspect that your tap water is contaminated with heavy metals, ask your local city authorities what the levels of contamination are for each contaminant. So, make sure to always drink bottled or filtered water to avoid these dangerous negative effects of tap water.
6. Household Products
Many cleaning products contain chemicals that can be harmful if ingested or inhaled. These include both the detergents that you use to clean your dishes and the soaps you use to wash your hands. Fluoride is an important part of preventing cavities, but only when it does not react with other ingredients in toothpaste. Toothpaste that is low in fluoride or has additives like triclosan or flavor enhancers can actually increase your risk of cavities. Be aware of the products you consume, both for health and dental reasons.
7. Poor Oral Hygiene and Diet
Cavity-causing bacteria love to feast on the remnants of food that you leave behind after eating a meal or snack. Once they start to feed on this food, they release acids which will eventually cause erosion of your enamel leading to painful tooth decay. If you want to help prevent cavities from forming, be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss regularly! These measures combined with drinking plenty of water each day should be enough to prevent cavities from forming. A diet that is high in sugar and starch will rapidly increase the number of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth, increasing your risk of developing a cavity even if you drink plenty of water each day. Make sure to brush after eating sweets or starchy snacks, and try to keep desserts and sugary snacks at a minimum. Water should always be next to you when snacking on this type of food so that you can wash out any debris from your teeth before it has time to develop into a cavity-causing mass of bacteria.
It is vital to take good care of your teeth, but this means more than just taking regular trips to the dentist…the water you drink can have a major effect on your teeth as well. It is best to always drink clean, distilled, and alkaline ionized-filtered water to maintain a healthy lifestyle free from harmful effects caused by tap water. So next time, before you go out drinking from the tap, be sure that it’s safe to do so by asking if few questions about what contaminants might be in the water and how many other people have been using it.