Not All Water is Equal: Is Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth?
September 29th, 2016
With water making up close to 60% of the average human body, there’s no better choice when it’s time to rehydrate. Experts tout plain water as the healthiest option – it’s calorie-free, caffeine-free, sugar-free – but if that tastes too boring, why not just add bubbles?
Sparkling water shares the same healthful characteristics as plain water, but if it’s all you drink, the extra carbonation could be bad news for your teeth.
Why Can Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth?
To make sparkling water, carbon dioxide gas is dissolved in regular water, creating carbonic acid. The acid gives the water its fizz and makes it more appealing than plain water, but the higher acidity can cause problems for the teeth. Beverages like soda and citrus juices are known for their higher acidity and potential for acid erosion, and while sparkling water is healthier than many options, it also carries the risk of damaging tooth enamel.
Pure water has a level of 7, or neutral, on the pH scale, the measurement of how acidic or basic a substance is. A measurement below 7 means more acidity. Sparkling water generally measures between 5 and 7 depending on the brand, mineral levels, and other added ingredients. For comparison, the pH of soda is between 2 and 4, while fruit juices are usually between 3 and 5.
When frequently consumed over time, the carbonic acid in carbonated beverages like sparkling water can cause the tooth enamel to begin to erode.
The enamel is the hard, protective outer layer of the tooth, and it can start to dissolve in conditions where the pH level is below 5.5.
If the enamel becomes too worn by repeated exposure to high acidity over time, the next layer – known as dentin – could become exposed. This can cause the appearance of discoloration because dentin isn't shiny and white like the enamel. It can also lead to an increased sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages.
How to Keep Your Teeth Healthy While Drinking Sparkling Water
While regular water is still the overwhelming best choice, sparkling water is still a healthier choice than soda or juice when consumed in moderation, and there are ways you can prevent damage to your teeth while you indulge.
- Use a straw! Drinking sparkling water and other carbonated beverages through a straw helps keep teeth strong by minimizing the contact between the carbonic acid and tooth enamel.
- Drink it plain. Flavored sparkling water often has added sugars, which can compound the damage to weak enamel. Adding a wedge of fresh lemon or lime is a sure way to add flavor without calories, but it’s not any better for the teeth. Lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits have a higher acidity, which can increase the potential for enamel erosion.
- Indulge with a meal. Instead of sipping sparkling water throughout the day, save it to enjoy during mealtimes. Chewing increases the production of saliva, helping to neutralize the effect of acid on tooth enamel.
- Chase it with plain water. Drinking regular water after drinking sparkling water will help rinse the teeth and prevent wear to the enamel.
- Wait 30-40 minutes before brushing. It might seem like a good idea to get rid of any acidic residue by brushing your teeth immediately after drinking a fizzy beverage, but it could make things worse. Right after drinking a carbonated drink, the tooth surface is slightly weakened. Sipping regular water and allowing saliva to help rinse the enamel will protect the teeth before it’s time to brush.
If you’ve been sipping on carbonated water all day, every day for a while now, you may want to schedule a dentist appointment to see if there’s been any damage has been done to your teeth. As Chicago’s number one dentistry, Water Tower Dental Care can put you on a path to a strong, vibrant and beautiful smile.