Common drinking water toxin may fuel tooth decay in kids

Toxic chemical substances commonly found in drinking water may be fueling tooth decay in children, according to a new study. The researchers found that children who had higher concentrations of a PFAS substance called perfluorodecanoic acid in their blood also experienced more tooth decay. These same toxins have also been linked to health problems that include heart disease, cancer, and thyroid disease.READ: Some water filters may increase 'forever' toxins in drinking water

The study, which comes from West Virginia University, involved 629 kids ages 3 through 11 years old. Blood samples from each child were analyzed for the presence of PFAS substances back in 2013 and 2014. As well, other information about the kids was gathered, including data on how frequently they brushed their teeth.

Perfluorodecanoic acid stood out among seven PFAS substances analyzed and was linked to greater amounts of tooth decay. It is possible that this substance prevents teeth from properly developing enamel, leaving them more vulnerable to decay. The good news, however, is that decay was less common in the kids who brushed their teeth at least twice per day.

As well, around half of the kids who were involved in the study didn't have detectable levels of PFAS substances in their blood. These same substances were recently the subject of a different study, which found that only some home water filters are capable of removing these toxins from the water.

In the case of whole-home water filters, the study found that failing to properly maintain and replace the water filters may increase the amount of PFAS in the water, increasing rather than decreasing exposure to it. As for this latest study, the findings indicate that proper oral hygiene may be able to help prevent tooth decay even in cases of perfluorodecanoic acid exposure.