Sparkling water, especially flavoured sparkling water, is a fashionable beverage at the moment. The drink is a go-to for people who enjoy the bubbles of soda but don’t want the added sugar that is packed into soda.
People drink sparkling water both or dietary and dental reasons. Lately, though, there have been questions in the media as to whether or not sparkling water can harm your teeth.
Some of this worry is because carbonation, including that in sparkling water, has a higher level of acidity than pure water, and a much higher level of acidity than the natural pH of the mouth.
Acidity can lead to erosion of the enamel, the protective covering of your mouth. The fundamental question is: does sparkling water have enough acidity to harm your teeth and smile?
At Smiles Nambour, we have the answer!
The Scientific Take
A handful of studies have examined the acidity of various drinks, including sparkling water, and also what their effect might be on teeth. One, a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association, measured the pH of almost 400 beverages including sports drinks, sodas, juices, teas, and sparkling water.
The pH was measured to determine the erosiveness of the drinks based on their pH level. The pH of water is a neutral 7, and beverages with a pH less than that are judged to be acidic. Drinks with a pH under 3.0 were identified as “extremely erosive,” those with a pH between 3.0 and 3.99 were “erosive”, and drinks with a pH exceeding 4.0 were judged to be “minimally erosive.”
A majority of sports drinks were rated to be “extremely erosive,” while some sparkling waters were rated to be “minimally erosive.” But what does “minimally erosive” mean? That still sounds like there could be some erosion.
Ada McVean, a researcher from McGill University, performed a similar study, but one that focused only on the pH of different sparkling waters. She tested the drinks at room temperature and just out of the refrigerator.
She also tested them in carbonated form and decarbonated form. In all of her tests, the waters had a pH above 4.0. (remember, this is a level considered to be minimally erosive). She did discover that the pH rose when the waters were at room temperature and when they lost carbonation. This suggests that sparkling water is more erosive when it is cold and bubbly.
What “Minimally Erosive” Mean For Your Teeth
In truth, scientists and dentists think it doesn’t mean that much. The first point is that carbonated water is better for your teeth than many other options. The pH of most sparkling waters might be a bit more acidic than good for most mouths, but the acidity level is low.
The pH of Gatorade, for example, is about 3, orange juice is about 3-4, and Coke is an alarmingly acidic 2.4. If the pH to stay above is 6 or so, one answer might be to drink your sparkling water at a lukewarm temperature.
Unflavoured sparkling waters also contain no sugar, so they are dramatically better for your teeth than many other drinks. Sparkling water brands that include sugar should not be considered sparkling water.
They are a sugar-sweetened beverage, just like sodas and juices. And we all know how sugar contributes to the risk of cavities. Unflavoured sparkling waters also have no added citrus-flavour.
Citrus-flavoured waters often have higher acid levels that do increase the risk of damage to your enamel. The fact is—sparkling or not—plain water is always the best choice.
Finally, even though sparkling water may slightly increase the acid level in your mouth, your saliva can help fight it. If you have normal saliva flow, you lower your risk from carbonated water.
Saliva neutralises and buffers some of the effects of acid. Also, it is probably better to drink sparkling water with a meal because your saliva flow is greater.
Finally, drink sparkling water in moderation and follow these easy steps to minimise the effects of acid on your teeth:
- Use a straw when drinking any liquid that might affect teeth.
- Rinse with water after drinking carbonated or sugary beverages.
- Brush your teeth 30 minutes after drinking carbonated beverages.
And if you have been drinking a lot of sugary or carbonated beverages, book an appointment with your friendly Smiles Nambour dentist for a comprehensive dental check up and personalised oral hygiene instructions. We’ll be happy to assess and treat your dental health!
Dentistry at Smiles Nambour
Smiles Nambour is the perfect choice for dental care in the Nambour area. We provide top-notch dental services of all kinds to patients of every age! Our professional staff is dedicated to providing you with personalised, quality dental care.
Smiles Nambour offers a comprehensive array of general, restorative, and cosmetic dental services for you and your loved ones.
A visit to Smiles Nambour is an investment in your dental health and attractive smile!
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Call (07) 5441 4438 or visit us at 4/104 Currie St in Nambour.