Dental Tips: Is Your Sparkling Water Harming Your Teeth?
Water makes up 60% of the human body and 73% of its brain.
This is one reason there’s no better choice than water when it’s time for a drink.
Doctors and nutrition experts agree on plain water as the safest and healthiest choice.
And doctors tell us to drink at least two litres of water daily.
But this can be difficult, and water can be plain, even boring. To spice things up, some people drink sparkling water.
However, there have been recent articles suggesting that sparkling water may be a threat to your teeth.
At Captivate Dental, we focus on protecting your dental health, so we took a look at sparkling water, how safe it is, and how that compares to other drinks.
Sparkling Water and Science
You probably know a fan of sparkling water, like trendy La Croix.
But does this popular beverage threaten the safety of teeth, as is sometimes reported? The short answer appears to be that there may be a small chance of damage, but it is easily dealt with.
The Underlying Chemistry
When you imbibe sparkling water, it actually creates a weak acid in your mouth.
The question is, “is that acid dangerous?” the chemistry of sparkling water comes down to this: CO2 + H2O -> H2CO3.
That looks confusing but is merely the scientific way of saying carbon dioxide and water combine to make carbonic acid.
This reaction is augmented by cold and pressure – meaning two things that are usually present when you drink sparkling water.
Pure water has a pH of 7, which is close to the optimal pH of the mouth – about 7.4. As pH decreases, it means more acidity.
Sparkling water usually measures between 5 and 7 depending on the brand. This is important because enamel, the protective outer layer of the tooth, can dissolve in a pH level below 5.5.
This means that many sparkling waters are in the safe range, but some are not.
A study in the Journal of the American Dental Association revealed beverages like Powerade or Gatorade drinks are “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 good news is that, while the chemical reaction we’ve described seems to pose a small threat to teeth – certainly less of a threat than the sugary drinks they replace.
A study from the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation revealed that flavourless sparkling and mineral waters do almost no damage.
To damage your teeth, you’d need to try. At its worst, sparkling water is about the same as sugarless fruit juice. You would have to drink sparkling water regularly, and over unrealistic periods, to have any effect.
Tooth erosion can be demonstrated in a controlled lab environment, but that’s because you can take teeth and dip them into a batch of sparkling water for a very long period.
In day-to-day life, it’s unlikely you could do any real damage.
On the minor chance sparkling water might do damage, Captivate Dental has a few suggestions to keep your teeth from harm.
Healthy Teeth and Sparkling Water
Regular water is the healthiest drink, but sparkling water is a better choice than juice or soda.
And there are a few things you can do to prevent even the risk of damage to your teeth.
- Drink ‘straight’ sparkling water. Sparkling water with a flavour is usually supplemented with sugar, citrus acids, or chemicals. All of which can increase acid levels and increase the chances of enamel erosion, even without any influence by carbonic acid.
- Use a straw. Using a straw minimises contact between dangerous elements in a drink and your tooth enamel – the straw gets the liquid behind your teeth before there is too much exposure.
- Drink with meals. Don’t sip sparkling water all day long; instead, enjoy it during mealtimes, when it is washed down with food.
- Wash sparkling water down with water. Drinking regular water after drinking sparkling water (or any other food or drink that might harm teeth) supports saliva production, rinses teeth and fights against enamel erosion.
- Brush 30-40 minutes after eating or drinking. Just after drinking a carbonated drink or eating food, the enamel is slightly weakened and more easily damaged. So wait to brush.
Complete Dental Care at Captivate Dental!
Captivate Dental provides the highest quality care and enables patients to make informed choices.
Our caring, skilled staff provides value through excellent diagnostic skills and efficient use of highest quality materials.
Captivate Dental offers a wide variety of preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dental treatment for children, seniors, and everyone between!
For patients with busy schedules, we offer Saturday hours as well as late visits on Wednesday (by appointment only).
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Call us on (03) 9553 1249 or visit us at 46 Station Street in Moorabbin.