Tooth decay from too little fluoride

St. Petersburg, Florida - For the first time since the 1960's, tooth decay is on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that parents may be the biggest culprit in the problem without even realizing it by giving their kids lots of bottled water.

We met up with the Capra family in a St. Petersburg park. So how often do John Capra's kids drink bottled water when they're outside playing in the sunshine? He says, "Rarely. If we go to a park or Busch Gardens or something and we're drinking water. I think that's the only way they sell it."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, he and his wife are doing the right thing. Most bottled water doesn't have fluoride in it. Tap water does. Drinking plenty of it and keeping up with dental appointments has helped this family.

St. Petersburg dentist, Doctor Ron O'Neal says, "You see a lot of this. These kids come in… you see a kid with his teeth rotted all the way across and it just breaks my heart… Tooth decay is something when the tooth becomes demineralized and when that happens the bacteria is able to attach to the tooth. Fluoride in the past put a nice eggshell around the tooth."

But according O'Neal, just drinking tap water isn't enough especially here in Florida.

"The fluoride is parts per million... And in Florida we have a lower parts per million because the theory being is that we drink more water than somewhere up north where it's colder."

Doctor O'Neal says give your kids tap water as much as you can but also get your kids excited about dental hygiene early in life. O'Neal says choosing fancy toothbrushes, flavored toothpastes and flavored floss is one way to motivate them.

In the Capra household...the adults lead by example when it comes to dental health. That's another tip dentists say can go a long way in preventing tooth decay.

For more than two thirds of Americans, tap water contains all the fluoride you need to prevent tooth decay. There are nearly two-dozen companies in the U.S. that do put fluoride in their bottled water.
Tammie Fields, Tampa Bay's 10 News