Friday, May 29, 2015

Fear of tap water tied to tooth decay epidemic among Hispanics

Health News Colorado - Snyder family
By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon

Rosa Snyder has searing memories of the pain and shame of tooth decay.

By age 7, her teeth started falling out. At around 11, she remembers a late-night trip to the Emergency Room at Denver Health.

“I had a fever and excruciating pain,” Snyder, now 30, recalls.

Soon after that, she was enduring dental surgeries and a root canal.

It’s unclear exactly what caused Snyder’s dental problems all those years ago. It wasn’t common in her family to go to the dentist for preventive visits. Snyder remembers going only when she was in pain.

Dental health experts now are honing in on another surprising factor that may put Latino families at greater risk for costly and debilitating tooth decay: fear of tap water.

As a child, Snyder never drank Denver’s fluoridated tap water. Her parents had grown up in Mexico and moved here later. Although they were well educated, like many immigrants from Mexico, they feared tap water.

“Absolutely,” said Snyder. “We were taught not to drink tap water — ever. My dad’s been in the U.S. almost 50 years and he still has a water dispenser. You don’t wash your vegetables with tap water. I never formula-fed my kids, but my sister did and you don’t make formula from tap,” Snyder said.

Doctors who work with Hispanics and new immigrants say fear of water is common.

For the rest of the story, go to Health News Colorado.

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