Dental Diseases Caused by Bacteria in Drinking Water?
"Other workers found that the proportion of antibiotic resistant coliforms increased from those in fecal
material (0.1 to 1% of total coliforms being resistant) through urban wastewater (10% resistant) to river
water (50%) and finally to potable water, where 80% of any coliforms present were antibiotic resistant."
By: Jim Bynum 2/10/2008
Retired Safety Consultant
Why do you think it is that dentists don't tell you that plaque, tartar, tooth decay, cavities, gingivitis and
necrotizing (flesh eating) ulcerative gingivitis are actually caused by bacteria? Could it be because
bacterial biofilms have been documented in dental unit water lines as well as the water supply lines from
drinking water plants? As you will see, you can not expect any single study to give you a full list of facts or
pathogens you may be exposed to in the dentist office or in your drinking water. The science simply is not
there yet, so the current position is to blame the victim for failing to practice proper hygiene.
"The reported list of bacterial genera isolated from DUWLs [dental unit water lines] is long and varied. For example, a
variety of opportunistic pathogens belonging to the following genera have been identified: Legionella, Klebsiella,
Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Mycobacterium, Pseudomonas, Moraxella, Sphingomonas, Brevindimonas, and
others." According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "The cooling water of dental units, which is sprayed into
the patient’s mouth, is also often heavily contaminated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
While many bacteria cause tooth decay -- the trend is to mention one and blame the parents.
"The most common decay-causing bacterium is Streptococcus mutans. Some people have especially active
decay-causing bacteria in their mouth. A parent may pass these bacteria to a child through kissing or sharing eating
utensils. The bacteria flourish in the child's mouth after the first teeth come in and can then cause cavities. So a
tendency toward tooth decay that runs in families does not necessarily reflect poor oral hygiene or bad eating habits."
While bacteria are the root cause of dental disease -- the trend is also to blame what you eat.
"Plaque is the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth." "Tartar, sometimes called calculus, is plaque that
has hardened on your teeth." "Tooth decay is a destruction of the tooth enamel. It occurs when foods containing
carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as milk, pop, raisins, cakes or candy are frequently left on the teeth.
Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids
destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay." "The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the tooth and
create holes in the tooth (cavities)." Fluoride is ester of a particular acid
While Oral bacteria may infect all parts of the body -- the trend is to blame your life style.
"The oral cavity is comprised of many surfaces, each coated with a plethora of bacteria, the proverbial bacterial
biofilm. Some of these bacteria have been implicated in oral diseases such as caries and periodontitis, which are
among the most common bacterial infections in humans. For example, it has been estimated that at least 35% of
dentate U.S. adults aged 30 to 90 years have periodontitis. In addition, specific oral bacterial species have been
implicated in several systemic diseases, such as bacterial endocarditis, aspiration pneumonia, osteomyelitis
in children, preterm low birth weight, and cardiovascular disease. Surprisingly, little is known about
the microflora of the healthy oral cavity." However, "As much as 60% of the species detected are not presently
While water contamination and bioaerosols are documented -- the trend is to claim no information is
"No work has been reported interrelating the dentist and patient to the transfer of etiologic [pathogenic] agents in
postoperative infections. Considering the proximity of dentist and patient in the normal course of operative and surgical
proceedings, an investigation into this area should prove most valuable in determining the course of such
microbiologic transfer and resulting infections."
That isn't quite true:
EPA's Dr. David Lewis' discovery in the early 1990s that the AIDS virus could potentially be transmitted by dental drills
led to the current heat-sterilization guidelines for dentistry adopted by the CDC, FDA, and public health organizations
worldwide. He was employed as a senior-level (GS-15) Research Microbiologist for the U.S. EPA’s Office of Research
& Development for over 31 years.
While virtually all coliform bacteria in water have become pathogens -- the trend is to claim they are not
harmful and that the fecal coliform test is for something other than a thermotolerant strain of E. coli that
only grows at 112.1 degrees.
"By 1904, it was [--] clear that organisms growing at body temperature and those fermenting lactose were not
numerous in normal waters, with total counts rarely exceeding 50/ml. However, when polluted waters were examined,
counts of acid producers on “litmus-lactose-agar” plates were likely to run into hundreds. The method, therefore, was
considered “one of the most useful at the disposal of the bacteriologist. It yields results within twenty-four hours, and
the conclusions to be drawn from it are definite and clear” (Prescott and Winslow 1904)."
Today, "There are three maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for microbiological contaminants. The first is based on
the presence or absence of coliform bacteria. This group of bacteria is very common and is not harmful." Not true!
Today, "The second MCL is based on the presence of fecal coliform or Escherichia coli (E. coli). Violation of this MCL
is an emergency, and the State requires water systems to promptly notify the public." You are dead before these
bacteria grow at 112.1 degrees.
While EPA allows some contaminated drinking water -- the trend is to claim all drinking water is safe.
Since 5% of the drinking water tests may contain coliform bacteria, there is the potential for all pathogens, including
dental disease causing pathogens such as Entamoeba gingivalis and Trichomonas tenax buccal protozoa as well as
Streptococcus mutans and Strep. sobrinus, lactobacilli, Gram positive (Actinomyces naeslundii, A. odontolyticus,
Propionibacterium spp., Eubacterium spp.) and Gram negative Fusobacterium spp, Capnocytophage spp, Veillonella
spp.) bacteria to enter the drinking water system and create a biofilm of pathogens on teeth (plaque), which tends to
calcify (tartar) over time.
While most heterotropic bacteria are pathogens -- the trend is to claim they are not pathogenic in water.
According to WHO, "A number of studies have yielded virtually the same characteristic spectrum of heterotrophic
bacterial strains. The predominant species in this spectrum are Acinetobacter spp., Aeromonas spp., Alcaligenes spp.,
Comamonas spp., Enterobacter spp., Flavobacterium spp., Klebsiella spp., Moraxella spp., Pseudomonas spp.,
Sphingomonas spp., Stenotrophomonas spp., atypical Mycobacterium spp., Bacillus spp. and Nocardia (Burlingame et
al. 1986; LeChevallier et al. 1987; Payment et al. 1988; Payment 1989; Reasoner et al. 1989; Manaia et al. 1990;
Edberg et al. 1997; Rusin et al. 1997; Norton and LeChevallier 2000).
While drinking water illness have been documented -- the trend is to blame them on something else.
"Some scientists believe that for every outbreak reported in the United States, another ten may be occurring. One
such study found that as many as one in three gastrointestinal illnesses -- often chalked up to "stomach flu" -- are
caused by drinking water contaminated with microorganisms."
While over one sixth of the people drink contaminated water -- the trend is claim all drink water is safe.
"EPA data show that more than 29 million people drank water served by systems with coliform bacteria higher than the
EPA's health standards allow, and that 19.6 million Americans drank water from systems that failed to meet the EPA's
basic treatment standards, which indicate inadequate quality, filtration, or disinfection. [ Another 10.2 million people in
the United States were being served water found to contain turbidity -- the cloudiness that often signals microbiological
contamination and that can make it impossible to effectively disinfect the water even with heavy doses of chlorine. In
Milwaukee, for instance, the only initial sign of a problem was the water's turbidity. Testing for cryptosporidium, the
deadly parasite that caused the diarrhea and vomiting, did not occur until after people became sick."
The theory presented to the public is that fluoride and chlorine treatment of drinking water would prevent
dental decay and cavities by destroying the bacteria.
However, one 1977 study found "fluoride is concentrated by dental plaque. Dawes et al. measured average fluoride
levels of 47 ppm, or 2.5 ,umol/g (wet weight), for plaque samples from people living in areas with fluoridation of the
water supply. Individual plaque samples were found to contain as much as 170 ppm, or 8.9 ,umol/g." Furthermore, The
other bacteria we tested did not undergo lysis [death] in the presence of fluoride. In addition to the organisms listed in
Table 2, they included: Escherichia coli strain B, Actinomyces viscosus ATCC 15987, Streptococcus faecalis ATCC
9790, Lactobacillus plantarum ATCC 8014, and Neisseria flavescens ATCC 13120." (1)
While EPA, States and municipalities are aware of the danger to children -- the trend is to promote high
levels of fluoride known to be harmful to children.
EPA has set an enforceable drinking water standard for fluoride of 4 mg/L (some people who drink water containing
fluoride in excess of this level over many years could get bone disease, including pain and tenderness of the bones).
EPA has also set a secondary fluoride standard of 2 mg/L to protect against dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis, in its
moderate or severe forms, may result in a brown staining and/or pitting of the permanent teeth. This problem occurs
only in developing teeth, before they erupt from the gums. Children under nine should not drink water that has more
than 2 mg/L of fluoride.
While EPA, States and municipalities know that antibiotic resistant genes are created and transferred
among bacteria in wastewater treatment plants which releasing them to water and picked up by drinking
water plants -- the trend is to claim chlorine kills all pathogens including those carrying the antibiotic
In a 1984 study of chlorine in sewage it was found that "The occurrence of multiply antibiotic-resistant (MAR)
bacteria in both drinking water and wastewater has been demonstrated in many studies and is
considered an important potential health problem. Antibiotic resistance in pathogens causes difficulty in effectively
treating human infections, but antibiotic resistance in organisms which are not considered primary pathogens is also
important because of the ability of these organisms to transmit resistance to other organisms by means of transmissible
resistance factors (R-factors)." "Another similar study indicated that 52% of patients entering hospital
for nonurgent surgical operations carried antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli. Approximately 60% of the resistant
bacteria possessed R-factors, with multiple resistance patterns being more frequent than single ones (8)." "Laboratory
experiments showed that regrowth occurred after initial exposure to 11 ppm (11 ,ug/ml) of chlorine, even in the
absence of chlorine neutralization. Other workers found that the proportion of antibiotic resistant
coliforms increased from those in fecal material (0.1 to 1% of total coliforms being resistant) through urban
wastewater (10% resistant) to river water (50%) and finally to potable water, where 80% of any coliforms present were
antibiotic resistant. The increase in the proportions of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been attributed to R-factor
While EPA and the States claim regulations protect children -- the trend is to expose children not only to
the pathogens in drinking water, but to pathogens in sewage biosolids and reclaimed water on lawns,
parks, school grounds, food crops and drinking water make up.
"Unhealthy drinking water affects children in different ways than it does adults. There is cause for special concern for
the health of children who drink tap water. Legal standards for most waterborne contaminants generally have been set
based on the health effects of pollutants on average adults; consequently, the health of millions of people -- including
infants, children, pregnant women and their fetuses, the elderly, and the chronically ill -may not be protected. To
compound matters, infants and children drink more than two and a half times as much water as adults as a proportion
of their body weight. An infant living solely on formula consumes about one-seventh of its own weight of water each
day, which would correspond to approximately three gallons of water for a 155-pound adult man."
While children and adults are suffering and dying -- the trend is to claim you have no cause to worry.
"According to Maryland Senator Ben Cardin's staff, dental decay is now the most common chronic childhood disease in
the US, affecting twenty percent of children aged 2 to 4, fifty percent of those aged 6 to 8, and nearly sixty percent of
fifteen year olds. It is five times more common than asthma among school age children, and nearly 40 percent of
African-American children have untreated tooth decay in their adult teeth. Improper hygiene can increase a child's
adult risk of having low birth-weight babies, developing heart disease, or suffering a stroke. Eighty percent of all dental
problems are found in just 25 percent of children, primarily those from lower-income families."
The deeper I get into this the more inclined I am to believe there is a lot of ignorance in the scientific fields due to the
fact that each field is so specialized and has its own specialized terms for identical problems in each field.
The dental and medical profession may not understand what caused the problem, but, over the past 30 years bacteria
that were not known to cause disease have transformed into very deadly pathogens as they pass through wastewater
treatment plants into surface water. Bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, fluoride and chlorine which may
cause stress making them viable, but nonculturable by standard lab methods. Other pathogens can not be cultured.
As a cheap unregulated method of disposal the deadly pathogen contaminated sewage sludge biosolids have been
spread on farmland, grazing land, lawns, parks, and school grounds and contaminates surface and ground water.
Since the problem with deadly pathogen contaminated drinking water has become well known, EPA has made it very
difficult to release the antibiotic resistant pathogen contaminated sewage effluent to surface water. As an example, in
Virginia 72-hundred miles of rivers and streams are contaminated with fecal bacteria and other pollutants. 720 miles
don't meet the current bacteria limit. However, EPA has left the states the option of using the deadly antibiotic
resistant pathogen contaminated sewage effluent as reclaimed water based on a test for a thermotolerant strain of E.
coli that only grows at 112.1 degrees and that suppresses the deadly Aeromonas bacteria.
Based on the numbers, dental disease in our children is just one more pandemic we have to contend with
-- yet, the trend is to blame the victims.
1. Bacteriolytic Action of Fluoride Ions, ROBERT J. LESHER, GARY R. BENDER, AND ROBERT E. MARQUIS*
Department of Microbiology, The University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York
14642, ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS AND CHEMOTHERAPY, Sept. 1977, Vol. 12, No. 3 , p. 339-345
2. Effect of Chlorination on Antibiotic Resistance Profiles of Sewage-Related Bacteria, G. E. MURRAY,' R. S. TOBIN, *
B. JUNKINS,2 AND D. J. KUSHNER' Biology Department, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada KIN 6N5,1 and
Health, APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, July 1984, Vol. 48, No. 1 , p. 73-77