By now, everyone knows about the hazards of drinking soda, both sugary and sugar-free.
At the same time, we’ve all been told about the importance of drinking water – after all, our bodies are approximately 60 per cent water, and that water needs to be replaced regularly.
And we may be tempted to break up the monotony of drinking the 2 litres of water that many doctors recommend by replacing some of it with sparkling water.
But is this good for our teeth, or is sparkling water an enemy of tooth enamel, as some reports suggest?
Thornton Dental is here to answer your questions!
Sparkling Water And Science
Most likely you, or someone you know, are a fan of sparkling water, like trendy La Croix. Some people love these fizzy carbonated drinks and spurn the ordinariness of water.
But does this popular beverage threaten the safety of your teeth, as is sometimes reported? The short answer appears to be ‘not much’.
Dr Edmond Hewlett, a professor at the University of California–Los Angeles School of Dentistry, notes that when you drink sparkling water, carbon dioxide does break down in your mouth and become carbonic acid. The question then becomes whether that acid is harmful.
The science of carbonated water can be explained in a simplified equation: CO2 + H2O -> H2CO3.
This means that carbon dioxide and water combine to make carbonic acid, which is in carbonated beverages. This reaction is strengthened by cold and pressure – meaning the way we usually take our sparkling water.
After a drink is opened, the carbonic acid decomposes to H2O and carbon dioxide (the bubbles) because picking up the bottle and opening it relieves the pressure and warms it up. But while cold and bubbly, sparkling water is more acidic than plain water.
Pure water has a pH level of 7. This is close to the optimal pH of the mouth, which is about 7.4. As pH drops, it means more acidity. The pH of soda ranges from 2 to 4, while fruit juices come in between 3 and 5.
Sparkling water typically measures between 5 and 7 depending on the particular sparkling water. This is important to teeth because enamel, the hard, protective outer layer of the tooth, can begin to dissolve in a pH level below 5.5. This means that much of sparkling water is in the safe range, but some have slightly high acidity.
A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association revealed beverages like Gatorade and Powerade drinks to be “extremely erosive” or “simply erosive”. Sparkling waters were listed as “erosive” or “minimally erosive.” This sounds vaguely threatening, but what does it mean in everyday life?
The Actual Risks Of Sparkling Water – Minimal!
The first point to note is that the acidity in sparkling water is substantially less in magnitude than that in citrus juice or many sodas and sports drinks on the market. The more acidic a drink is – examples of acidic drinks are carbonated sodas containing citric acid or bottled water with fruit flavouring – the greater the risk of enamel eroding. Further, non-flavoured sparkling waters have no sugar, and we all know that sugar is a significant threat to teeth.
So, what kind of threat is mineral water?
Dentists are nearly unanimous that the risks are small.
Dentist Damien Walmsley, a professor of dentistry at the University of Birmingham says, “There is a theoretical risk of tooth erosion, but the drinks would have to be consumed over a long period of time.” He recommends keeping acidic drinks to meal times for complete safety.
Andrew Swiatowicz, a dentist in Wilmington, says, “For an average, healthy person, carbonated, sugar-free beverages are not going to be a main cavity-causing factor.”
Of course, the best beverage to drink for your oral health is water with fluoride, but sparkling water seems to present a minimal risk.
Tips for drinking sparkling water
- Sparkling water is better for your teeth than sugary drinks. If you use to replace these kinds of drinks, you are doing your teeth a favour.
- Be aware of what’s in your sparkling water. Citrus-flavoured waters can have higher acid (citrus acid) levels.
- Enjoy acidic drinks in one sitting or with meals. This minimises extended exposure of your teeth to the slightly higher level of acid it contains.
- Sparkling water brands with added sugar increase your risk of cavities.
- Drink acidic drinks with a straw.
- Rinse your mouth with water after drinking acidic drinks.
Why Choose Thornton Dental?
- We focus on patient care
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