Is sparkling water bad for your teeth?

Is sparkling water bad for your teeth?

Many people enjoy the refreshing effervescence of sparkling water. It’s fun to feel those tiny bubbles tickling your tongue. You may also reach for sparkling water to wean yourself off of sugary sodas and teas, which are known to cause issues with teeth. But have you ever wondered if sparkling water is bad for your teeth?

How sparkling water affects your teeth

Sparkling water, also known as club soda, carbonated water, and seltzer, is considered a healthy alternative to soft drinks. Unlike soda, it usually doesn’t have any added sugar. This alone makes sparkling water better for your teeth. But don’t start guzzling seltzer morning, noon, and night just yet.

Most people love the bubbly, party-in-your-mouth sensation of sparkling water, but there is a downside. The carbonation in seltzer makes it more acidic than tap water. The higher acid levels are what can be a concern when it comes to tooth health. Excess acid can erode enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity and cavities.

Is the acid in sparkling water bad for your teeth?

According to the American Dental Association, the acid level in most sparkling water is safe for your teeth in moderation.

Luckily, sparkling water has a less acidic pH than soda, beer, and wine. We’ve listed the pH levels of some popular drinks below. The lower the pH, the higher the acidity.

  • Ottawa tap water: pH 8*
  • Sparkling water: pH 5
  • Beer: pH 4
  • Soda:  pH 3
  • Wine: pH 3

* Ottawa city water is kept slightly alkaline in order to prevent the corrosion of pipes. Pure water is pH 7.

The bottom line: The acid levels in sparkling water are safe for your teeth—as long as you don’t drink it like it’s going out of style.

In fact, thanks to popular drinks like La Croix and San Pellegrino, sparkling water has never been more in style. Seltzer water sales are growing every year, which means more people than ever are asking, is sparkling water bad for your teeth?

Still or sparkling? The best option for your teeth

Plain old tap or filtered water is always the best option for your teeth. Tap water has the added benefit of fluoride, which helps protect your teeth. If you’re a sparkling water lover, just be sure that you don’t drink it more than regular water. Sipping seltzer too frequently can increase the risk to your teeth.

In this article by, Dr. André Ritter, chair of the department of operative dentistry at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, explains:

“If you’re sipping and keeping that acidic drink in your mouth and swishing around every time you sip, and if you do this often, multiple times a day, then that’s probably the most dangerous kind of behaviour when it comes to tooth wear.” 

Keep reading for more tips to get your fizz fix, without damaging your teeth.

The most tooth-friendly way to drink sparkling water

Try to see carbonated drinks as a treat that you enjoy with one meal a day, or when you go out to restaurants. During meals, your mouth produces more saliva, which helps wash away bacteria and acids. Limiting bubbly drinks to mealtime will minimize acid wear on your teeth.

No matter what time of day you enjoy a glass of fizzy water, be sure to rinse with regular water afterwards. Using a straw will also help protect your teeth.

Soda vs. sparkling water

We’ve already seen that sparkling water is less acidic than soda. There are some other key differences between soda and seltzer that impact how they affect your teeth.

We’ve all seen those scary science experiments showing the corrosiveness of Coke. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that soda is bad for your teeth. The sugar and acid in soft drinks can cause several dental issues, including tooth decay and gum disease. Sparkling water, on the other hand, is less acidic and usually doesn’t contain sugar.

Is diet soda bad for teeth?

You might be wondering if diet or sugar-free sodas are safer for your teeth. While they may not contain sugar, diet sodas do have phosphoric acid, which can hinder calcium absorption and weaken enamel.

The good news is that sparkling water doesn’t contain phosphoric acid. But flavoured sparkling water may contain citric acid. That’s why plain seltzer isn’t as bad for your teeth as citrus flavours, like lemon, orange, and grapefruit. Adding fresh lemon or lime to your sparkling water will also make it more acidic.

Signs of enamel erosion

As you can see, potential enamel erosion is the main concern when it comes to sparkling water, sodas, and diet soft drinks. Again, if you drink sparkling water with care, you shouldn’t have to worry.

If you are concerned about enamel loss, here are some signs to look for:

  • Tooth sensitivity. Enamel loss can cause sensitivity to sweets, and hot and cold sensations.
  • Tooth discolouration. When enamel erodes, the yellow inner layer called “dentin” begins to show through, giving teeth a yellow or greyish tinge.
  • Cavities and fractures. As the enamel wears down, the whole tooth is more vulnerable to tooth decay and fracturing.

Of course, prevention is always key. You can prevent any further enamel loss by choosing water over sugary, acidic drinks, and opting for foods that are good for your teeth. Proper brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits will also help keep your enamel strong.

The final verdict

So, is sparkling water bad for your teeth? As long as you drink it with care, sparkling water probably won’t damage your teeth. Avoid citrus flavours, use a straw, and swig some regular water afterwards to minimize any possible enamel erosion.

If you’re seeing signs of enamel loss, a dentist can recommend the right solution for you. Book a dental visit to find out how we can help you keep your teeth strong and healthy.

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