Bubbly Water: Is It Bad For Your Teeth?

Bubbly Water: Is It Bad For Your Teeth?

October 18, 2018

By: Suzanna McAninley, DMD, Belltown Dentist

LaCroix and other carbonated waters are the newest trend in drinking water over the last few years. It seems like every time I go to the grocery store it’s always on sale! I will admit, I also take part in this new wave of “healthy” drinking water. I love the bubbles in the water; it’s so refreshing! The flavors often leave something to be desired, but I’m a traditionalist. I prefer boring flavors like lemon, lime and grapefruit. I tried the Key Lime flavored LaCroix recently, and too my surprise it has surpassed my current preference, pamplemousse (grapefruit), to become my new favorite!

As a dentist, I constantly find myself analyzing my diet and beverage choices for healthier alternatives. I try to “practice what I preach” to my patients and eat better choices in regards to sugar and acid. I was worried about the acidity of carbonated waters due to the fact that they are essentially made using water and carbonic acid. Highly acidic beverages can cause acid erosion, which essentially erodes away your protective tooth enamel. This can lead to future problems such as teeth sensitivity and the need for replacing lost tooth structure with crowns.

Studies have shown that the number one determinant of a beverage causing acid erosion in teeth is the pH of the beverage. Beverages like orange juice are at the extremely acidic (<5) end of the scale and water would be more neutral (~7). If the pH of a beverage is lower than 4, the rate of acid erosion increases by 10X for each decrease in pH value! The worst choices you can make for a beverage would be sodas and energy drinks with a pH of around 2.6-2.8. It may also surprise you that sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, are also extremely acidic. They have an average pH of 2.8.

The problem with sparkling water being acidic can be two-fold. One acid is added to make the water “sparkling”; to make those bubbles that we all love. Another acid is often added for flavoring. With two acids in the mix, this can lead to an acidic beverage! The good news is that the average pH of a sparkling water is around 5.5. This is MUCH less acidic than a soda or energy drink. In my opinion, sparkling water is a much better choice than most available flavored beverages on the market today. If it can help increase your water intake and taste good at the same time, it’s a winner in my book!

The bottom line is aim for a beverage that has a pH in the range of 5-7. If you absolutely have to drink that energy drink or soda, just make sure you are using moderation and rinsing your mouth with water between sips. This will help prevent acid erosion which can lead to increased dental visits in the future!

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Research completed by the American Dental Association shows the pH value of many common beverages consumed in the United States. Check out this link to see how your beverage of choice compares! The pH of Beverages in the United States. Another article by the Today show that has interesting facts about the difference in “water alternative” beverages such as sparkling water & bubbly water drinks.

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