We all know drinking water is essential to maintaining a healthy body. We are made of 60% water and staying hydrated helps our systems distribute nutrients, rid our body of waste, gives skin a healthy glow and keeps muscles functioning. Sipping water is also one of the best things you can do for your teeth, especially if it’s fluoridated like our tap water in Brisbane. Having a drink of water after a meal helps to wash food away from around our teeth and neutralize the acids and sugars that cause dental decay. It also helps to produce saliva – the body’s natural mechanism to assist digestion and protect teeth. The question is, are we getting more benefits from purchased bottled water compared to the free water in our taps?
Tap water and bottled water are regulated differently in Australia and they do not necessarily meet the same standards. Tap water is required to meet more stringent quality criteria and is more carefully monitored. The safety practices around testing tap water for pathogens like bacteria and viruses are much more rigorous and regulations for monitoring these ensure Australia is a world leader in management of tap drinking water quality (Stuart Khan, Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales and an expert in drinking water quality).
If we were to believe the marketing associated with bottled water though it would be easy to assume bottle water is “purer” than tap water. There are many different types of water that gets bottled – spring, mineral, artesian, glacier and rain water to name a few. However, it is important to know that some companies are using tap water as a source for bottling as well! While bottled water falls under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, this code doesn’t require manufacturers to state on the bottle what type of water it is or where the water is sourced from, apart from the country of origin.
Beverage companies are also turning to flavoured water to lure more people in to purchasing bottled water. These ‘vitamin’ waters aim to entice the sports orientated clientele, however they aren’t exactly a healthy option and can contain anything from 3 to 7 teaspoons of sugar in a single bottle (comparable to a cup of red cordial). It’s not just the sugar that can be problematic for teeth. Food acids (which will also leave teeth susceptible to dental decay) are also added to flavoured waters to help extend shelf life.
Tap water is so beneficial, easy, and readily available, fluoridated to protect your teeth and free unlike bottled water so don’t let it be so easily overlooked. Remember to check the small print on your next purchase of bottle water, you just might be drinking tap water but paying for a pretty label and convenient package.