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In the past few years, the percentage of Australians drinking drinks such as colas and juices has dropped by more than 10 per cent.
This drop in consumption of highly-sugared drinks may be the result of consumers enjoying a broader range of drinks.
And this seems to make sense, as Australians have become increasingly aware of health risks and have consequently reduced consumption of unhealthy food, including beverages overflowing with sugar and chemicals.
At the same time, this doesn’t mean Australians are drinking less liquid, as they still need to stay hydrated. The human body is approximately 60% water (the brain and heart even more), and 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%, while the percentage of Australians drinking drinks such as tonic water or dry ginger ale rose by 20%.
But, if you read magazines, you might also see articles that claim sparkling water may contain tooth-threatening acids, leading you to ask, “Are sparkling waters safe for me?”
Smiles First Dental has an answer!
Does sparkling water affect your teeth?
The primary dental concern is that sparkling water contains carbonic acid. Carbonic acid forms when carbon dioxide and water are combined under pressure, and then come apart when a sparkling beverage is opened. It is this reaction that gives sparkling water is ‘fizziness”, and it is this acid can theoretically erode tooth enamel. However, most science seems to indicate that sparkling water doesn’t represent a substantial threat.
First, a can of sparkling water’s actual carbonic acid content is quite weak. The pH of sparkling water pH is far more neutral than that of a soft drink, like Coke or Sprite. As an example, Perrier’s pH value is about a 5.5 and bottled flat water has a pH of about a 7. Compare that to a cola, which has a pH as low as 2.5! Your mouth should have a pH of about 7.4 and the lower the pH, the more damaging to teeth.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t studies showing that sparkling water can harm teeth. But these lab tests show a relatively minor impact and the tests are designed in ways that don’t match the real world of drinking. Furthermore, studies demonstrating damage have been focused on flavoured sparkling waters, which often have sugar and citric acid added, two ingredients known to damage teeth.
One 2007 study exposed teeth to flavoured sparkling waters for 30 minutes and discovered flavoured waters were about as erosive as orange juice, which is known to erode enamel. But the flavouring is the main culprit in this scenario, and almost no one lets their drinks stay in their mouths for 30 minutes at a time!
Additionally, the mouth and body are quite efficient at maintaining a safe pH in the mouth, with saliva working as a counteragent and buffer to low levels of acidity. As the Wikipedia says, “The human body robustly maintains pH equilibrium via acid-base homeostasis and will not be affected by consumption of plain carbonated water.”
So the threat to your teeth seems small, and sparkling water is absolutely better for your teeth than acidic or sugary drinks like soda. If you enjoy a good sparkling water, take heed of the following advice, and you should have no dental issues from your habit:
- Use moderation when drinking sparkling water. If you drink flavoured sparkling water, this is particularly important and leads to our next point.
- Avoid sparkling water with any added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Sparkling beverages can have hidden ingredients, so read the ingredients lists carefully looking for sugars and chemicals.
- Avoid drinking too much sparkling water with high amounts of citric acid added.
- Save more acidic sparkling waters for meals and drink regular water in between.
- Rinse your teeth after drinking.
- Brush your teeth 30-40 minutes after drinking.
- Use a straw.
- Reduce how long carbonated water stays in your mouth. Avoid holding it or swishing it around before swallowing.
- After you drink, chew xylitol gum, which battles acids in your mouth.
And if you have been drinking a lot of sugary or carbonated beverages, book an appointment with your friendly Smiles First Dental dentist. We’ll be happy to assess and treat your dental health!
Dental Care at Smiles First Dental
Smiles First Dental is your trusted dentist in Northmead in Greater Western Sydney. Your oral health and smile are important to us. Our highly trained staff treats all dental issues, including complicated problems related to other health conditions.
Our commitment to our patients is maximised dental health and a stunning smile.
We make life a little bit easier for our patients by offering late hours on weekdays and weekend appointments.
Gap-free check up and clean
We offer all patients gap-free check ups, cleans and all preventative treatments if you are in a private health fund ($180 for patients not in a private health fund). Terms & Conditions Apply
Call (02) 9630 9996 or visit us at 19/5-7 Kleins Rd in Northmead.