You might have switched from conventional soft drinks to sparkling water for a healthier lifestyle. But you might want to know if it is the best liquid there is? Or does it also have adverse effects on your overall health, including your teeth?
In the US, sparkling water sales are booming and have doubled in the past few years. Statistics show that in 2015, the total sales of plain sparkling water in Canada was $332 million. With the rate with which it is increasing, it is likely to reach $525.8 million in 2022.
What is Sparkling Water?
Sparkling or carbonated water is pure water infused with carbon dioxide under low temperature and high pressure creating carbonic acid (H2CO3). Many companies add vitamins, sugar, or flavors to it, which makes it bad for your teeth, but can carbonated water still damage your teeth if nothing is added?
The hissing sound you hear when you open a sparkling water bottle is releasing the pressure that keeps carbon dioxide dissolved in water. The carbonic acid decomposes in water and carbon dioxide, and the mixture then goes into our bellies.
Is Sparkling Water Hurting My Teeth?
Bubbles in the water suggest it has carbon dioxide in it. But not every bottle of bubbly water is plain sparkling water. There are different kinds of carbonated water available in the market, some with additional additives. For example, club Soda has added salts in it. Tonic water contains sugar, and many kinds of flavored mineral water have other acids, salts, and sugar. Sparkling water has no such additives and is pure water mixed with carbon dioxide.
Enamel erosion is defined as the physical etching away of dental hard tissue. And we all know acids cause erosion of tooth enamel. And as mentioned earlier, the carbonation of sparkling water is aided by carbonic acid. So it has to be detrimental to our teeth, right?
Enamel erosion is a result of dietary habits and excessive intake of acidic foods and beverages. The breaking away of dental hard tissue can cause problems for orthodontic treatment, especially for orthodontic appliance bonding.
Tooth enamel erosion can be caused by:
- High sugar intake
- High starch intake
- Wear and tear
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Xerostomia (Low salivary flow)
- Consuming sodas and fruit drinks
- GERD (An acid reflux disease)
Whether or not sparkling water is the culprit may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and even person to person as the PH values of our saliva differ. Let us look at some factors to determine the potential causes of harm.
Soda carbonators have become easily accessible, and people can carbonate water in their homes. The level of carbonation is an essential factor in judging if water is unhealthy for the teeth or not. A higher level of carbonation means a higher acidic level, and that can cause tooth enamel erosion.
Sugars, salts, vitamins, and artificial flavors can cause tooth decay and enamel erosion. Many manufacturers add these substances to their carbonated water products, making them closely, if not equally, damaging as soft drinks. It is best to give the ingredients a look before consuming any product.
The lower the PH level of a drink, the more acidic it will be. Pure tap water has a neutral PH level, i.e., 7. It is recommended not to consume a drink with a PH level of 5.5 or less, although some people have a lower salivary PH, but it’s rare.
Soft drinks and even some fruit juices have PH ranging between 2 and 4. Such PH levels are dangerously low and can cause your teeth much harm.
Don’t you find a glass of cold water refreshing? Of course, we all do, especially when the weather is hot. But unfortunately, a lower liquid temperature causes its PH levels to decrease as well. So if you are consuming sparkling water, it is advisable to keep it at room temperature so that its PH is on safe levels.
Plain sparkling water without any harmful additives such as salt, sugar, and flavors is only slightly more acidic than tap water. Therefore, it is not detrimental to your teeth if consumed in a moderate quantity. If you take the following precautions, you can keep your teeth healthy without having to quit drinking sparkling water.
Regular Water Consumption:
The benefits of regular tap water are unmatched as it washes away the food particles on your teeth and is a good source of fluoride. Therefore, you can easily say that sparkling water is a better choice than soft and flavored fizzy drinks. However, it still is a little more acidic and a little lower on PH than regular water.
So as long as you keep consuming the most efficient hydrant, i.e., tap water, it is okay to drink sparkling water as well.
Read the Label:
Always read the label and the list of ingredients before you buy sparkling water. Look for additives it contains and don’t buy it if it has harmful substances. For example, calcium ions are a good ingredient that some sparkling waters have. It is beneficial for your teeth and makes them stronger.
Only 77% of Americans go through labels while buying food products, and 71% look only at the quantity of sugar.
Avoid the Flavored Ones:
It is best to keep away from flavored sparkling water as flavors add the acidic value of the water, which erodes your teeth’ enamel. However, if you want some flavor in your H2O, make sure you don’t go for citric ones.
Moderation is Key:
Like in almost everything in life, moderation is a factor that plays a significant role here. For example, if you don’t drink sparkling water in huge quantities, your teeth should be fine.
Many studies have been conducted on the harmful effects of soft drinks. For example, they have proved that they cause erosion of etched enamel and dissolve adhesive material. Still, there have been limited studies regarding the impact of plain carbonated water. Therefore we will look at a study approved by the institutional review board at the Dental Hospital of Wonkwang University.
Seventy-five premolars were extracted at the different clinics and private practices in the Dental Hospital of Wonkwang University. The ones with scaling, erosion, restorations, or other damages were excluded. All the teeth belonged to people aged between 20 and 29 years.
The teeth were cleansed with non-fluoridated pumice and a rubber cup, air-dried, and stored in normal saline water. The roots of the teeth were cut with a low-speed, water-cooled diamond saw. The left half of each tooth was covered with an acid repelling wax for comparing it later with the right, exposed half.
The teeth were stored in artificial saliva at 37 degrees Celsius. Over 7 days, all the teeth were submerged in different solutions with different carbon levels and with and without calcium ions for 15 minutes, three times a day.
The study concluded that carbonated water had negative impacts on teeth. Still, they were not as harmful as the studies of the effects of soft drinks on teeth showed. The higher the carbon levels were, the higher was the damage.
Erosion of scaled and etched enamel was observed along with micro-hardness and removal of the adhesive material. However, it was found that the presence of calcium ions prevented decay and erosion.
We have established that sparkling water is better than soft and other flavored drinks. However, it is still better to consume regular water. There are different types of commonly available regular water, and they have their pros and cons.
Tap water collects calcium and magnesium while passing through rock formations. In addition, fluoride is added to most tap water sources, which is not present in many foods. All these minerals are healthy for your teeth and bones.
The Safe Drinking Water Act passed in 1974 protects tap water sources. Therefore, the US has one of the safest drinking waters. The act requires the tap water to go through a 3 step process, including removing dirt, filtration to remove clay and natural organic matter, and chlorination. In addition, the authorities must inform the affected public about any contamination that might occur in the water.
Chlorine is added to fight off any pesticides or harmful materials that might have entered the water stream through rivers. Still, it can react with fallen leaves to make a toxic by-product. Tap water can also get contaminated by pipes with lead. The authorities keep a constant check over water quality, but infants, pregnant women, and older adults who have a weaker immune system may instead decide to consume bottled water.
There are three types of bottled water:
Mineral Water: It is extracted from underground sources and contains a certain amount of minerals, zinc, arsenic, and copper.
Spring Water: It gets collected from the natural flowing surfaces and also has minerals.
Municipal Water: It gets treated before it is bottled. It is filtered and chlorinated.
Many pieces of research and studies have often found the bottled water of many brands contaminated. But, unfortunately, no laws require bottled water companies to disclose their processes or meet a standard criterion.
It is much more expensive than tap water and does not have the beneficial natural elements that tap water has. It also has much more carbon than tap water.
Alkaline Water: It has a high PH value that helps in neutralizing the acids in the body. It also slows the aging process.
Mineral Water: It contains nutrients that the body cannot produce itself.
Spring or Glacier Water: It is clear of toxins and contains beneficial minerals. The credibility of the claim can always be doubted, though.
So, is sparkling water bad for teeth? Not really if it does not contain harmful additives and you drink it in moderate quantities. There is nothing more refreshing than a glass of carbonated water when the summer sun is beating down on you. However, remember to keep following good oral hygiene practices like regular brushing of teeth, using mouthwash, flossing, and replacing your toothbrush every three months, and sparkling water can’t do you any harm.
Remember to get your teeth checked regularly by a dentist so you can keep enjoying the taste of life. If your teeth are experiencing issues with sparkling water by chance, we’ll be able to catch it in time. You can book an appointment with our experienced dentist at SoftTouch right now located in Sacramento, California.