Sparkling water and your teeth
Many Australians have turned to sparkling water as an alternative to soda since it has the pleasant fizziness of soda without empty calories, high sugar content, and chemical additives.
It seems like a good idea – combining our need for hydration with low-calories and natural water.
However, sparkling water has recently made the news for having higher acid levels than regular water; a higher level of acidity that may threaten tooth enamel.
The explanation lies in chemistry– when carbon dioxide is dissolved in water to create carbonation, it creates carbonic acid, which comes with the risk of eroded tooth enamel.
Because our patients have questions about the safety of sparkling water, DentArana has taken a deep dive into the subject to give you the answer to the question, “Sparkling water – dental do, or dental don’t?”
Does Sparkling Water Affect Your Teeth?
Dentists and scientists have been exploring this question. The primary concern is that sparkling water contains carbonic acid. Carbonic acid is formed when carbon dioxide and water are combined under pressure, and then decompose when the beverage is opened. It is this process that gives sparkling water is ‘fizz”, and this acid can theoretically erode tooth enamel and tooth sensitivity.
What the practical science seems to indicate is that fans of sparkling water don’t have too much to worry about.
The first point is that a can of sparkling water’s actual carbonic acid content is quite weak. Its pH is far more neutral than that of a soft drink, like Coke or Sprite.
As an example, Perrier water’s pH value is about a 5.5 and bottled flat water has a pH of about a 7. Compare that to a cola, which has a pH as low as 2.5! Your mouth should have a pH of about 7.4.
This isn’t to say that there haven’t been studies showing that sparkling water can have adverse effects on teeth in a lab setting. But these lab tests show a small impact and are designed in ways that don’t closely apply to the real world. Furthermore, studies showing damage tend to focus on flavoured sparkling waters, which often have sugar and citric acid added, two additional ingredients that certainly can damage teeth.
One 2007 study exposed human teeth to flavoured sparkling waters for 30 minutes and found flavoured waters to be roughly as erosive as orange juice, which is known to erode enamel. But, again, the flavouring is the main culprit in this scenario, and very few people let their drinks pool in their mouths for 30 minutes at a time.
Further, the mouth and body are pretty good at maintaining a safe pH in the mouth, with saliva working as a counteragent and buffer to low levels of acidity.
As the Wikipedia puts it, “The human body robustly maintains pH equilibrium via acid–base homeostasis and will not be affected by consumption of plain carbonated water.”
So the threat to your teeth seems very small, and a few simple precautions can mitigate it.
Keeping Your Teeth Safe
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing beverage options like sparkling water.
- Sparkling water is unquestionably a better alternative than sugary sodas. But on a daily basis, be certain to get plenty of regular water as well, which helps flush out your mouth. Regular water often contains fluoride, which helps to prevent cavities by remineralising your teeth. Finally, water fights off dry mouth, which can harm your teeth.
- Avoid sparkling water that contains citric acid. Flavoured drinks often have high acid levels that can erode your tooth enamel – citric acid can piggyback on carbonic acid and erode your teeth.
- Avoid added sugar. Sugary sparkling waters can be just as bad for you as regular sodas. Check to make sure your sparkling water has no added sugars.
- Don’t nurse drinks with high acid or sugar content. Instead, drink them all at once, or during meals, when chewing and saliva combine to help keep the acid away from teeth.
- Drink with a straw – this helps keep acids from contact with your teeth.
- Rinse after drinking acidic or sugary drinks.
- Don’t brush your teeth until 30-40 minutes AFTER drinking acidic drinks.
Do I Have Eroded Enamel?
When enamel erodes and thins, teeth appear yellower. Front teeth may also look transparent at the tips. In advanced stages of enamel loss, small cracks may develop in your teeth, making them feel rough.
Enamel loss also causes tooth sensitivity. This pain is especially noticeable when drinking hot or cold beverages, like iced carbonated water.
DentArana Is Your Partner In Health
DentArana provides Family Dentistry in Arana Hills. Our goal is to make quality dental care affordable, and help you achieve maximum oral and overall health!
DentArana can help you with all your dental needs, from clean and scales to bridges and dentures. We offer late and Saturday hours!
New Patients Specials
- Pay No Gap: NO GAP for Dental Exam, Clean and Scale (with any health insurance) for under 17
- No Health Insurance: Only $99 for Exam, Clean and Scale (under 17’s)
Call (07) 3351 3366 or visit us at Shop 5 Patricks Place, Corner Dawson Parade and Patricks Road in Arana Hills.