Doctors recommend we drink 2 litres of water a day for best health, and water is always a great drink choice as it helps to keep your mouth and body healthy.
Water helps clean your teeth, and a lot of tap water contains fluoride, which is extremely good for your dental health as it strengthens teeth.
But ‘normal’ water can be a bit bland, so many of us try to spruce things up by drinking sparkling water – water with carbonation added to impart a zesty fizz—an added something that provides a satisfying feel similar to drinking soda.
But, does that added carbonation and acidity affect your dental health? In particular, does it harm the enamel? (Remember that enamel is the hard outer-covering on the tooth).
At Deer Park Dental Surgery, we’re here to tell you that sparkling water is a bit more acidic than ‘regular’ water but is generally safe to drink, and if you’re worried there are some steps you can take to protect your teeth.
What is Sparkling Water?
It is everyday water with carbon dioxide infused into it. The resulting carbonated form of water is known as sparkling water, club soda, or seltzer water.
Flavoured sparkling waters and tonic waters have added sweeteners, flavours, and possibly caffeine.
Carbonation means Carbon Dioxide
If you’ve been wondering how they put the bubbles in sparkling water, the answer is carbon dioxide. The “carbon” in carbonation comes from this fact.
Once soda is in your mouth, it decompresses and warms up, which converts carbon dioxide into carbonic acid through a chemical reaction.
While this is a part of the flavour and mouth-feel of carbonated water —it makes your drink tangy and refreshing—it makes the drink more acidic, and high acid levels are known to contribute to enamel erosion.
And this is the potential threat of sparkling water – as it breaks down in your mouth, it releases acid that can attack the tooth enamel.
If the tooth enamel is damaged, it can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and worse conditions.
The International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry published a paper by researcher Catriona Brown at the University of Birmingham, which suggested that many flavoured sparkling waters have corrosive effects on teeth similar to those of orange juice.
But in this case, it seems like the flavouring is more at fault than the carbonation itself, with lemon, lime, and grapefruit being the most erosive flavours.
Their erosive power is due to the citric acid to the water, which piggybacks on the slight effects of the carbonic acid that is already present.
The good news is that research published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, which focused on sparkling waters without additives, demonstrated that plain mineral water, and most flavourless sparkling waters, do very little damage to tooth enamel.
The general scientific consensus seems to be that there is a very slight chance that sparkling water can have an effect on your teeth, but even in the worst scenario, this damage will be about that of sugarless fruit juice, and often far less.
It’s worth pointing out that in these studies, tooth enamel was submerged in sparkling water – meaning in contact with it for very unrealistic periods.
While sparkling water presents a theoretical risk of enamel erosion, it seems like a consumer of sparkling waters would have to actively try to damage their tooth enamel for sparkling waters to have any effect.
However, Deer Park Dental Surgery does have some suggestions to protect your teeth if you are a heavy sparkling water drinker.
Staying safe with sparkling water
Regular water is the healthiest choice, but sparkling water certainly preferable to sodas or juices.
Here are some things you can do to prevent the risk of damage to your enamel.
- Drink plain sparkling water. Flavoured sparkling water is usually supplemented with sugar or acidic flavourings. These can damage your teeth, so stick to unsweetened, unflavoured waters.
- Use a straw. This minimises contact between acids/sugars and your tooth enamel.
- Have your sparkling water with meals. Don’t nurse your sparkling water during the day. Instead, drink it with meals. Chewing stimulates saliva production, which neutralises and buffers the effect of acid on tooth enamel.
- Have a water chaser. Drinking regular water after sparkling water (or any other drink that is bad for teeth) rinses your teeth and fights enamel erosions.
- Brush only after 30-40 minutes. Brushing right after drinking can make things worse, as the tooth enamel is slightly weakened. So brush, but wait about a half-hour.
The Deer Park Dental Difference
Deer Park Dental Surgery gives outstanding patient care and customer service to the expanding community of Deer Park and its environs.
We are conveniently located in a busy medical centre in Brimbank Shopping Centre. We are open on Saturdays to cater to your family needs and patients with busy schedules.
Parking is hassle-free.
GAP FREE for New Patients
(with any health insurance)
We are located at T097a Brimbank Shopping Centre Neale Road in Deer Park.