Dental Tips: Is Your Sparkling Water Harming Your Teeth?
The number of Australians sipping on drinks such as juices and colas has dropped by more than a tenth.
This may be a result of Australians becoming more aware of the health risks of sugary beverages, particularly those with high levels of flavouring chemicals or sugar.
Obviously, however, this doesn’t mean Australians are drinking less since hydration is a key part of health. In fact, many doctors recommend that we drink up to 2 litres of water each day.
It seems that some Australians have turned to sparkling water as an alternative to juice and cola.
Australian company Roy Morgan Research found that between 2009 and 2013, consumption of unflavoured sparkling water rose by 15%.
At that same time, the percentage of Australians drinking drinks such as tonic water or dry ginger ale rose by 20%.
But, if you follow mass media, you might have seen reports that say sparkling water contains acid that threatens teeth.
This may lead you to ask, “Are sparkling waters safe for my teeth?” At Norlane Dental Surgery, we have answers for you!
But first, a word from the scientists!
Carbonated water is created by infusing carbon dioxide (CO2) into water. This high-pressure procedure results in carbonic acid, which is more acidic than regular water.
And drinks with high acid levels (A low pH) can lead to dental problems that begin with erosion of tooth enamel.
When enamel erodes, the dentin beneath is exposed, which can lead to tooth sensitivity, teeth discolouration, and cavities. And while enamel can be defended with fluoride, it does not grow back.
But, in general it seems that the threat of erosion is small.
In 2001, the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation conducted a study showing that while sparkling mineral waters are slightly more significant erosive than water, the potential for damage was minor, and was about one hundred times less thatn the potential damage caused by soft drinks.
Judged by pH, sparkling water does not come off very badly, although it is below that of the natural pH of the mouth.
Carbonating water drops its pH from 7 to as low as 5. This is still in the safe zone as the chance of enamel erosion goes up dramatically when the pH drops below 4.5.
For comparison, here are the pH’s of other drinks.
- Water has a pH level of 7
- Bottled water has a pH level of 5-7
- The pH level of sparkling flavoured water ranges from 3-5
- The pH of sodas can drop to 2 – 2.5
What does this low pH, with its possibility for enamel erosion, mean for teeth?
Most dentists and scientists don’t think it means that much. The first thing dentists say is that carbonated water, even with its slight acidity, is a far better drink option than many others.
The pH of most sparkling waters might be a bit more acidic than most mouths, but the acidity level is relatively low.
Unflavoured sparkling waters are also sugarless, to they are substantially less damaging to your teeth than other drinks. However, this does mean you need to watch out for “sparkling water” that has added sugar.
They should be treated just like other sugar-sweetened beverages, like juices and sodas. Unflavoured sparkling waters should also have no added citrus-flavouring.
Finally, as with anything else, consume sparkling water in moderation and follow Norlane Dental Surgery’s simple steps to minimise the effects of acid on your teeth:
- Use a straw when drinking any liquid that might affect teeth.
- It is better to drink sparkling water with a meal because your saliva flow is greater.
- Rinse your mouth out with water after drinking carbonated or sugary beverages.
- Brush your teeth 30 minutes after drinking carbonated beverages – do not brush directly after drinking any beverages.
And if you have been drinking a lot of sugary or carbonated beverages, book an appointment with your friendly dentist Norlane. We’ll be happy to assess and treat your dental health!
Dental Health Now at Norlane Dental Surgery!
At Norlane Dental Surgery, we believe everyone deserves excellent quality dentistry, and our goal is to help you achieve this.
Norlane Dental Surgery is a multi-surgery practice which has been operating for over 30 years taking care of the oral health needs of the community.
If you would like to learn more about us, please contact us now for a consultation.
Dr Rashi Gupta has been practising dentistry for more than 17 years.
Dr Sophie Hancy graduated from the University of Western Australia in 2013
Dr Benjamin Pham graduated from The University of Melbourne.
Our dental nurses are helpful and compassionate: Greta, Andrea, Marilyn, and Sarah!
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