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Is Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth Because It’s Acidic?

If you prefer sparkling water to plain water, you may wonder if carbonation is bad for your teeth. This article discusses studies on the acidity of carbonated water and the risk factors for tooth decay.

What Exactly Is Sparkling Water?

Sparkling water is water with dissolved carbon dioxide gas that has either been artificially injected under pressure or naturally occurs as a result of geological processes. Carbonation causes tiny bubbles to form in the water, making it fizzy. Club soda, carbonated mineral water, and sparkling water manufactured in a factory are examples of common forms.

Added or dissolved minerals like potassium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, or potassium sulfate are found in some sparkling waters. These are typically added artificially to imitate a natural flavor profile and counteract the acidity of introducing carbon dioxide gas. In some mineral waters, they occur naturally.

In addition to being sold in bottles and cans, naturally carbonated glasses of water can also be made at home with a carbon dioxide cartridge or on-demand in bars and restaurants using commercial carbonation systems.

Is Sparkling Water Acidic?

Carbonated water has a pH of 3 to 4, which indicates that it is slightly acidic. However, saliva can partially neutralize the acidity of carbonated water, which can help lessen the severity of the acid-causing damage to your teeth.

Is Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth?

Study #1

According to an original study by the American Dental Association, it would take more than 100 years of daily consumption of sparkling water for damage to human teeth to occur. This conclusion could not be made if sugar or artificial flavorings were present, which frequently contain citric acid and other fruit acids and are predicted to affect human teeth.

To reach this conclusion, researchers have tested a variety of still and sparkling mineral waters, as well as some comparative soft drinks, for the potential for acid erosion. They used in vitro dissolution assays with extracted human teeth and powdered hydroxyapatite. Dissolution levels were very low in all of the mineral waters, and in still water, they were completely undetectable.

It was found that sparkling mineral waters dissolved slightly better than still waters, but levels remained low and were 100 times less than soft drinks in comparison. The dissolution of sparkling mineral water was reduced by degassing, but the total levels remained relatively low.

Conclusion

  • Carbonation of water may not be an influential factor in terms of acid erosion.
  • Mineral waters appear to be a safe substitute for more corrosive, acidic drinks.

Study #2

The American Dental Association released brand new research on this subject in June 2022. The study's objective was to determine whether flavored sparkling water, plain sparkling water, or carbonated bottled water could affect dental erosion.

Freshly extracted human teeth were soaked in seven different sugar-free beverages to determine which ones, if any, caused erosion. The researchers reasoned that soaking teeth in these drinks for 24 hours would be equivalent to consuming them for an entire year.

They discovered that both sodas' acids eroded dental enamel when they were compared to sodas without sugar. Since the acid in the beverage eroded the enamel, the type of sweetener had less of an impact. Researchers also noticed erosion in flavor-infused sparkling waters, though it was less pronounced than what they saw in soda with and without added sugar.

Conclusion

  • Bottled waters that were unflavored and uncarbonated were the only beverages in the study that did not erode enamel.
An illustration of a can of carbonated water

An illustration of a can of carbonated water

What the Experts Say

Dentists might advise you that drinking carbonated water is better than drinking soda or other sugary drinks because carbonation does not seem to harm teeth on its own. The demineralization of teeth, however, may be attributed to other added ingredients found in sugary sparkling beverages.

Since naturally fluoridated water is the preferred option for strong, healthy teeth and ideal oral health, the majority of dentists advise patients to stick to drinking plenty of that.

Fluoridated water naturally reduces your risk of developing cavities by flushing away leftover food that bacteria love to feed on. It also prevents dry mouth, which can be a risk factor for tooth decay.

Check the Ingredients of Your Sparkling Water

It might be wise to pay attention to the ingredients in your sparkling water and keep in mind your dentist's recommendations. Drinks with citrus flavors frequently have a high acid content, which increases the risk of enamel damage.

If you must drink them, consider doing so with meals. This keeps you from sipping it throughout the day and continuously exposing your teeth to the slightly higher level of acid it contains.

Sparkling waters from companies that have added sugar are no longer just sparkling water. They are sugar-sweetened beverages, which increases your risk of developing cavities.

So you might want to avoid sparkling water if you're worried that it will harm your teeth and are unsure of the ingredients listed on the label. Always remember that drinking plain water is most beneficial for your health.

Conclusion

Sparkling water with no additional ingredients is not generally considered bad for your teeth, although studies do appear appear to suggest that there is a slightly higher risk for acid erosion than still tap water.

Research also suggests that despite sparkling water's slightly higher acidity than regular water, saliva's natural ability to neutralize acid lowers the risk of acid erosion to enamel.

Watch out for sparkling waters that contain extra ingredients like sugar or sugar substitutes, as these can promote plaque buildup and erode tooth enamel.

Although many people find carbonated beverages to be refreshing, it may be wise to only consume them on occasion. Regular water, including fluoridated tap water, is the healthiest choice if you're looking for a beverage that is actually good for your dental health.

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Louise Fiolek