Is Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth?
I grew up drinking water straight from the tap. Some of you may not know what this is.
Tap water is an ancient form of water. To locate it, you must enter a kitchen and locate the sink. Once you’ve found the sink, locate the shiny spout with one or two things that turn. This is called your faucet.
Within this faucet, you have the ability to bring forth tap water. Yesss, tap water. Ta-dahhh!
If you want to go back even further, travel back in time with me to farms all across America. You will head out to the barn where the animals are kept.
Somewhere, sticking out of the ground, is a silver pipe with a handle on it for cranking.
This is the pump to draw water from a well. You crank the handle, and water comes bubbling up and shooting out from the pump. You catch it in a bucket and drink up.
We used to grab drinks from the well when we were running around playing at the farm.
I was perfectly fine drinking straight from the tap. It was a normal part of life. Grab a cup, turn on the faucet, get my water.
I was at my aunt’s house for a party when I saw this green bottle of water. Oooh. It looked so fancy. I had to try it.
So, I twisted the cap off and gave it a big swig.
Promptly choked it down, grimaced, and threw the rest of it away. Blluuckk! Not a fan of the water that seemed to bite my mouth. I never touched that fancy Perrier mineral water again.
Then along came my dear friend, who thinks LaCroix is the next best thing since sliced bread. She always has some sitting in her refrigerator. After offering it to me several times, I thought, Well, heck. I’ll try it. It’s flavored.
Now, I must admit that my La Croix experience was better than my Perrier gag-and-spit moment. But not by much.
However, as an adult, I had learned how to eat and drink things to be polite, as well as in the name of health or hydration. I learned how to tell myself it tasted like soda.
I learned how to lie to myself.
In my humble opinion, sparkling water does not taste like soda. So I just call it fizzy water. That part is true. It does have the fizziness of soda, the fizzy without the extra sugar.
Sparkling Water is Not Exactly Plain Water
Nope. Sparkling water is not exactly like plain water, but it is close. It is plain water with a bit of carbon dioxide dissolved into it. That’s a simple way to say it’s carbonated.
Sparkling water quite often has natural flavors added to it. It becomes a healthier alternative to soda for many people who avoid extra sugar, artificial flavors, colors, and extra calories.
The carbonation factor of sparkling water means it has a higher acid level than plain tap or bottled water.
How Does Sparkling Water Affect the Body?
As we have stated, sparkling water is practically identical to regular water. The only difference is the addition of carbon dioxide. This is true for plain sparkling water only.
When no extra sugar is included in the ingredients, sparkling water can have the same health benefits as plain water. That means the body can be hydrated by sparkling water.
Suppose you have tummy issues that tend to leave you with extra gas or to feel bloated. In that case, you’ll need to be cautious drinking sparkling water because the carbonation can add to any gastrointestinal issues.
In other words, do not chug sparkling water all day and go out on a date with the person you’re hoping to impress.
How does Sparkling Water Affect the Teeth?
A lot of research will tell you that sparkling water has no adverse effects on your teeth. This is partially true. It is also why the research seems to be conflicting if you don’t dig a little past the surface.
For the most part, research tells us that drinking sparkling water is perfectly fine when it comes to your oral care. As most of us know, many people choose to make donations to science after they die.
Researchers were able to use donated teeth to test the effects of sparkling water on actual tooth enamel. One might think that sparkling water would be much more acidic.
They compared regular water to sparkling water and discovered that the effects were almost identical. The tooth enamel did not appear to be damaged any more aggressively by sparkling water than normal water.
According to the American Dental Association, the acid level in a typical bottle of sparkling water is within the safe range and won’t damage the teeth by eroding the enamel.
When carbonation is added to water, it lowers the pH level. For most of us, that means nothing. So, I’ll explain further.
pH level has to do with acidity. On the pH scale, the numbers range from zero to fourteen. Seven is neutral. Pure water has a pH of 7. A lower pH level is the equivalent of something becoming more acidic.
Acids are notorious for eroding tooth enamel. When the enamel is worn away, we can be left with tooth decay, discoloration, or sensitivity.
If the pH level is higher than a four, then the likelihood of erosion is non-existent. If the pH level sits between three and four, then the substance is considered erosive. When that number drops below three, we’re talking about a majorly erosive substance.
Sparkling water with no additives will typically have a pH of three to four. So it is considered to be erosive.
The good news is that when you drink sparkling water while eating, the addition of food in your mouth kicks that pH level up higher and prevents the sparkling water from being erosive.
So, eating food while drinking sparkling water is definitely the way to go when it comes to protecting your oral health.
What Happens When You Drink Sparkling Water by Itself?
Well, this is a question that hasn’t really seen many conclusive answers. The bottom line is that we know allowing acid to sit on the teeth is a bad idea.
So, sipping on sparkling water all day will keep the pH level in your mouth sitting in the danger zone for tooth erosion.
Don’t confuse sparkling water with club soda or mineral water. They both have added minerals or naturally-occurring minerals. Those minerals raise the pH level out of the danger zone to a five.
Orange juice and sodas tend to be in the highly-erosive level when it comes to their pH.
What About Flavored Sparkling Water?
The only way I can tolerate sparkling water is to drink the flavored ones. I like a little berry flavor in my tasteless sparkling water.
Flavors can do something to sparkling water that takes it from being good for your mouth to be more destructive to your mouth. Many flavor additives lower the pH level.
When citric acid is used to create a flavor, most of us cannot tell that it’s an ingredient. Citrus flavors will usually have citric acid in them without it being listed as a separate ingredient.
Even though it’s hard to nail down the pH level on flavored sparkling water, we would just suggest eating food when you drink the citrus-flavored sparkling water and be sure not to sip on sparkling water throughout the day.
Enjoying Sparkling Water
- Sparkling water is a wiser choice than a sugar-laced soda when picking a drink. You should also swig some water with fluoride. Water has many benefits when it comes to your oral health.
- Watch those ingredients! As we mentioned, citrus flavors have citric acid, which lowers the pH level even further in sparkling water. That means a greater risk of damage to the enamel.
- Don’t add citrus fruit slices or wedges to your sparkling water. That automatically makes it more acidic and causes enamel erosion.
- If the sparkling water has sugar added, it isn’t true sparkling water. It will be much worse for your teeth than regular sparkling water or plain water.
- Remember not to sip on sparkling water all day long. Drink it in a short sitting and preferably with a meal.
- Wait at least thirty minutes to brush your teeth after drinking sparkling water. The acid present makes your teeth susceptible to damage when brushing.
- If you have chronic dry mouth, sparkling water may not be the best choice because you do not have enough saliva in your mouth to neutralize the acid.
- Plain water is always the best choice.
In the end …
Sparkling water is less sugary and less acidic than soda. But if you were hoping to drink sparkling water to your heart’s content with absolutely no damage to your teeth, you’ll be disappointed to learn that’s not the case.
If we had to choose between soda and sparkling water, we’d pick sparkling water all day long. We’d just be sure to tell you to follow our tips to keep your teeth from being damaged!