It’s all over the news how some people are eschewing tap water or even bottled water to get “raw water.” Raw water is water that comes from natural sources in as unmodified a form as possible. That means no filtration, no sterilization, and no addition of chemicals of any kinds whatsoever. Although proponents claim it has major health benefits, some experts are concerned about serious health hazards. When it comes to the health of your teeth, there are also concerns to watch out for before deciding to jump on the raw water bandwagon.
Acidity is one of the major concerns when it comes to drinking any beverage. Whether we’re talking about soda, wine, or water. Our teeth are naturally strong, but they are vulnerable to attack by acids. Any liquid with a pH of less than 5.5 will dissolve your tooth enamel, although how quickly the dissolution happens depends on how acidic the drink is and how often you drink it.
Most groundwater is acidic to some degree. It starts out acidic as rainwater, and can often become more acidic thanks to exposure to minerals in the earth. Water from natural springs can have a pH as low as 4.0, which makes it erosive to your teeth, although that’s still less acidic than soda or wine.
As acidic water passes through the earth, it dissolves minerals. These minerals are supposed to be one of the benefits of drinking raw water. Apart from obvious hazards like arsenic, unprocessed spring water can contain many minerals that can stain your teeth. This includes iron, which is commonly found in almost all spring water. Over time, you may notice discoloration of your teeth or an increased deposition of tartar thanks to the minerals dissolved in spring water.
One common reason why people want to get raw water is to avoid fluoride, which is often added to municipal water. The irony is that almost all cases of serious documented harm from fluoride come from areas where natural groundwater is high in fluoride. In fact, it’s unusual to find natural water sources that have lower fluoride levels than municipal levels (typically 0.7 mg/L), and it’s fairly common to find groundwater that’s five times that level. This is especially damaging for children, whose teeth may develop fluorosis from consuming too much fluoride in water.
How to Get Raw Water That’s Safe
This is not to say that raw water is inherently unsafe or that you shouldn’t drink it. Instead, it’s important to be smart about raw water and look at it critically as you would anything else you eat or drink. Here are a few tips for getting raw water that’s also safe.
Get It from a Source You Trust
As with any other natural product, knowing the source is critical. There are several companies that bottle and ship raw water and can vouch for its safety. This is a great place to start if you’re new to the phenomenon.
Have Somebody Show You Their Source
If you know someone who has a safe, healthy source of raw water, and they’re willing to share it (warning: many people guard their water sources jealously), then have them show you where it is so that you can enjoy the source. Make sure the person really is experienced in selecting good water sources and knows that their source is really safe.
Get Your Water Tested
It’s never a bad idea to have your raw water tested to make sure it’s safe. Do this whether you’re buying the water, getting it from a friend, or collecting it yourself. Remember: the water may look like it’s clean, fresh water when it comes out of the ground, but you don’t know what happened to it before it went in there or what else went into the ground with it. It’s just better to be safe.
Consume It Quickly
Because raw water hasn’t been treated, it actually has a very short shelf life. Over time, the microorganisms living in the water will multiply. This can quickly lead to a harmful concentration of organisms and toxins–even if the water started out as safe.
Let Us Help You Stay Healthy
At the office of Dr. Pamela Marzban, we are looking out for the oral and overall health of our patients. We want to make sure that everyone stays healthy and has the beautiful smile they deserve.