Everybody knows that drinking water is vital for your health. But staying hydrated can be difficult – and sometimes boring.
As a rule of thumb, you are told to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. But after the first few glasses of water, you might begin to find the taste gets boring. And after eight glasses? You may never want to drink water again!
This is why people sometimes get tired of drinking plain water or look for something a bit more exciting. And sometimes, this choice is sparkling water.
But over time, carbonated water has gained a reputation for damaging teeth and harming oral health. The question arises, “Can carbonated water harm teeth?”
The answer is, probably not.
Let EK Dental Surgery take you through the chemistry, rumours, and truth about carbonated water and your teeth.
What About Carbonated Water?
First, we need to understand precisely what we mean when we refer to sparkling water or carbonated water.
Plain sparkling water, with no added sugar or salt, is nothing more than water that has been carbonated. In this process, carbon dioxide gas under pressure is dissolved into a liquid, and carbonic acid is formed.
This process is the same as that used to produce carbonation in soda.
The ‘scary’ part of that is the carbonic acid, because, theoretically, it could harm your teeth. After all, it is an acid.
And some patients at EK Dental Surgery worry because carbonation, including sparkling water, has a higher level of acidity, to begin with, than most beverages.
Too much acidity in the mouth can attack your enamel, the protective outer layer of your teeth. So what we really need to know is: does sparkling water have enough acidity to attack and harm your teeth?
The answer, fortunately, seems to be “no”, although the answer is not absolute.
Looking At The Science
A 2001 study published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, found: “Mineral waters appear to offer a safe alternative to more erosive acidic beverages.”
They concluded sparkling waters were dramatically less erosive than soda. In this study, however, carbonated water was not compared to plain water.
A more recent study from 2007 came to the opposite conclusion. The researchers soaked teeth in seltzer-filled containers for half-an-hour to measure the effect of sparkling water on enamel.
They found the sparkling waters “demonstrated erosive potential similar to or greater than that of pure orange juice, an established erosive drink.”
It’s worth noting, this is a fairly unrealistic study, as very few drinks remain in a mouth for that long.
A 2016 study in the Journal of the American Dental Association characterised some Gatorade and Powerade drinks as extremely erosive, while others were merely erosive.
Comparatively, Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water was listed as “erosive,” while Perrier carbonated mineral water was tagged “minimally erosive.”
The American Dental Association discovered that Pellegrino is on the edge of “erosive” and “minimally erosive,” per the data. Its pH could range from 5.05 (minimally erosive) to only 4.87 (erosive).
So, that data suggests that mineral water is either safe or slightly erosive. What it adds up to is there may be a theoretical risk of tooth erosion, but you’d have to drink an awful lot of carbonated water over a very long period to harm your teeth.
This becomes more complicated if mineral water is flavoured or contains sugar as a sweetener, but the damaging effects of sugar are already well known.
How To Stay Safe
The answer, like many answers in dental and overall health, begins with moderation. Don’t drink too much carbonated water! But there are also some strategies you can use to be sure that, even if carbonated water does pose a very slight threat, your dental health is unharmed.
- Be aware of added contents in your sparkling water. Sparkling waters flavoured with citrus typically have higher acid levels that increase the risk of enamel erosion. So enjoy these beverages in one sitting or with meals. The biggest threat comes if you are sipping all day long and repeatedly exposing your teeth to the slightly higher level of acid it contains.
- Don’t think of sparkling water with added sugar as a tooth-safe sparkling water. These are sugar-sweetened beverages, like sodas, which can increase your risk of cavities. Just remember—sparkling beverage or not—plain water is the best dental choice.
- Use a straw when drinking any liquid that might affect teeth.
- Rinse with water after drinking carbonated or sugary beverages.
- Brush your teeth 30-40 minutes after drinking carbonated or sugary beverages.
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Call (03) 9887 8787 or visit us at 230 Springvale Road in Glen Waverley.