Children's drinking water: parental preferences and implications for fluoride exposure

Pediatr Dent. Jul-Aug 2009;31(4):310-5.


Purpose: The purposes of this study were to: describe children's drinking water sources; determine if any demographic factors are associated with water choice; describe parents' reasons for selecting bottled water; and determine parents' ability to provide enough information about their drinking water for providers to assess children's fluoride exposure.

Methods: Subjects were parents of children 6 months to 15-years-old. A questionnaire was verbally administered in English or Spanish. Chi-square analyses were used to evaluate associations among study variables.

Results: Of 194 parents, 134 (69%) gave their children bottled water either exclusively or with tap water. Bottled water use was not significantly associated with the primary source of tap water, parent's education level, or household income. Reasons for giving children bottled water included: fear of contaminants in tap water; taste and/or smell of tap water; and convenience of bottled water. For parents using bottled water, over 65% did not know the brand's fluoride content.

Conclusions: Barriers to an accurate fluoride assessment include frequent bottled water use and parental uncertainty about its fluoride content. By initiating communication with parents and educating them about fluoride sources, health care and dental providers may be able to better evaluate the adequacy of children's fluoride exposure and decide whether fluoride supplementation is necessary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cariostatic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Choice Behavior
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drinking*
  • Educational Status
  • Fluorides / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Infant
  • Insurance, Health
  • New York
  • Parents / education
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Water / chemistry*
  • Water Pollution
  • Water Supply* / analysis


  • Cariostatic Agents
  • Water
  • Fluorides