Even though a proper amount of fluoride is important for adults, it can be especially crucial for children. Fluoride helps prevent and reverse early stages of tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel and allowing teeth damaged by acid from plaque to remineralize themselves.
In 1945, communities started adding fluoride to their water and, as a result, cavities in children dramatically decreased. As of 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 66% of the American population receives fluoridated tap water in their homes.
Check with your dental professional to see if your local water supply contains adequate levels of fluoride (between 0.7 and 1.2 parts fluoride per million parts of water). In areas without fluoride in the water or in households where non-fluoridated water is the primary beverage, your dentist may recommend daily fluoride supplements.
One alternative to fresh water minus the bottle is filtering your tap water. Using a filtering system with tap water provides cleaner, better-tasting water without filtering out important cavity-fighting fluoride.