In the past few years, sparkling water, particularly flavoured sparkling water, has become increasingly popular.
This is for several reasons, including that many of us are looking to increase our hydration levels and many of us like the tingle of carbonation that we find in sodas, but want to get that sensation without the calories, sugar, and additives that come with sodas.
As consumption of sparkling water has jumped, some have begun to ask questions about its safety.
Scientists tell us that sparkling water can lead to an increased acidity level in the mouth, and they also know that high acidity levels can attack your enamel and weaken your teeth.
The critical question becomes, “Does sparkling water create enough acidity to harm your teeth, or is it a harmless replacement for other drinks?”
If you have questions about sparkling water, Dr Sachdeva’s dental clinic has answers!
Why chemistry matters
The science looks complicated, but it is simple. Artificial carbonation is created when C02 (carbon dioxide) is pumped into a liquid at high pressure.
This high pressure forces the carbon dioxide to dissolve into the liquid, eventually resulting in carbonic acid (H2CO3).
The bubbles give a mouth-feel to the liquid, and the carbonic acid provides the drink with a tangy flavour.
But is this safe?
More science! Acids have a low pH (a scale separating acidic or basic a liquid is), and drinks with a low pH are known to erode enamel, the hard, shell-like outer layer of teeth.
This can lead to a variety of dental problems, and enamel does not grow back.
As the enamel erodes, the sensitive and yellow dentin underneath begins to be exposed. Your tooth is less protected, and it can suffer from sensitivity to temperatures, discolouration, decay, and cavities.
When measured for pH, sparkling water is not your worst option, but it does have a pH below the healthy pH of the mouth (7.4, or so).
Here are some numbers on that:
- Water has a pH level of 7, close to that of the mouth
- Bottled water has a pH level ranging from 5-7
- Sparkling flavoured water has a pH ranging from 3-5
- Sodas can be as low as 2 – 2.5
What’s the scientific consensus?
Scientists aren’t unanimous on this, but most research indicates that in real-life sparkling water is not that dangerous to teeth.
Some studies have concluded that, in a laboratory setting, sparkling water can damage enamel, but others suggest that it has minimal effect.
One study concluded, “carbonated water has negative effects on etched or sealed enamel, resulting in decreased microhardness and removal of the adhesive material.”
It is worth noting, however, that in that particular study, “all the… (teeth) … were submerged in each test solution for 15 minutes three times a day for 7 days.”
This does not seem like a realistic simulation of what happens when people drink sparkling water in real life!
Dr Peter Alldritt of the Australian Dental Association reports that erosion of enamel is a slow process and that while it is happening, saliva is using its buffers and enzymes to fight back and neutralise the pH of the mouth.
How to be completely safe
It seems that sparkling water is relatively safe, though clearly not as safe as water. But it is an excellent alternative to sugary or acidic drinks like soda and even fruit juices.
At Dr Sachdeva’s dental clinic, we suggest you drink sparkling beverages in moderation, and follow these suggestions:
- Avoid added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or citric acid.
- Read the ingredient list for “hidden” ingredients.
- Drink sparkling water for mealtimes and drink regular water in between.
- Rinse teeth after drinking.
- Use a straw when drinking.
- Minimize the time carbonated water is in your mouth.
- After you drink, chew xylitol gum, which prevents the natural formation of acids in your mouth.
Follow this advice and visit Dr Sachdeva’s dental clinic regularly, and everything should be OK!
Competent, Convenient Care at Dr Sachdeva’s Dental Clinic
Dr Sachdeva’s dental clinic is conveniently located on Stud Road by Burwood Highway in Wantirna South. We are near public transport and offer free and convenient parking.
We offer late afternoon and early evening hours, emergency treatment. You can reach us by phone or on our convenient online contact form.
If you want a dental surgery where the dentist takes time to find out your concerns and desires, and who makes decisions in consultation with you, then our office should be your choice.
Our technology is cutting-edge, including our SNAP Dental Imaging Software and “One-stop” CEREC restoration.
We know the difference a relaxing atmosphere and caring staff can have on your dental experience, and we take the time to get to know all of our patients on a personal level.
Wantirna South dentist also serving local communities in Knox City, Boronia, Bayswater, Scoresby, Rowville, Ferntree Gully, Vermont, Vermont South, Burwood, Burwood East, Ringwood, Ringwood East and Wantirna.