Is Carbonated Water Bad For Your Teeth?
Sipping a cold glass or bottle of carbonated water is satisfying. However, some experts question the effects the water may have on your enamel. Does it weaken the enamel? Does it put you at risk of developing dental cavities? Are there studies that support any claims of dental cavities?
What is carbonated water?
Carbonated water is regular water that has been infused with carbon dioxide while under great pressure. This results in a bubbly drink commonly known as sparkling water. There are several types of carbonated water distinguished by the products infused into the water.
The most common types of carbonated water are;
- Club soda
- Seltzer water
- Flavoured carbonated water
Types of carbonated soda
This is plain water with added mineral salts, including sodium citrate, disodium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, and potassium sulfate. It has a more mineral taste compared to seltzer water, but still has a clean taste and is used for mixing adult drinks and everyday drinking (1).
This is the most basic of all types. Its difference from plain water is that it’s carbonated. It is used for mixing cocktails and everyday drinking.
Flavoured carbonated water
These have additional flavours and sweeteners like citrus and caffeine.
The potential harm of carbonated water
Not all carbonated water cause tooth decay. Flavoured carbonated water and club soda increase the chances of developing tooth decay because of the sweeteners, flavours, and the salts that they contain. Seltzer water doesn’t cause tooth decay and is labelled as minimally erosive.
Carbonated water has a low pH compared to tap water. This low pH quickens the loss of minerals from teeth even if the water contains added minerals.
Studies show that seltzer water strays away neutral levels on the pH scale. This greatly affects the amounts of minerals in your mouth. If you have a calcium deficiency, then you should stay away from carbonated drinks; both seltzer and club soda.
The worst water is flavoured carbonated water. First, because of the sugar and second because most people hold it in their mouth for long giving it time to erode the enamel.
If you have cavities and issues with tooth sensitivity, carbonated water will only make it worse with time.
Carbonated water vs. club soda: Which is better?
The only difference between the two is that club soda has salts which give it a salty taste. Though they are used for the same purpose, carbonated water is better for your teeth than club soda because of the added salts.
Carbonated water vs. mineral water: which is better for your teeth?
Mineral water is usually gotten from the mineral springs and underground reservoirs. This makes it to have a higher mineral content in comparison to regular tap water and carbonated water. The minerals found in mineral water are;
Mineral water is often bottled at the source, and people prefer it because of its perceived purity. However, in some instances, it undergoes processing, which includes removing or adding carbon dioxide and removing poisonous substances like arsenic.
In comparison to the carbonated water, mineral water is better for teeth health because of the natural minerals that it contains.
Does carbonated water cause tooth decay?
Provided its seltzer water, then it doesn’t cause tooth decay. But in the case of club soda and flavoured carbonated water, the risks of tooth decay increase significantly.
The sugars and acids present in the water have cariogenic and acidogenic potential and can result in enamel erosion. The carbon dioxide gas dissolved in the water alone isn’t acidic enough to harm the teeth.
Is carbonated water better than sugary soda?
Carbonated water is a non-sugary and non-calorie beverage. However, sugary soda has high caloric and sugar content. This makes carbonated water a healthier alternative to sugary soda. It has reduced effects on your teeth and blood sugar levels as well. Sugary soda is also known to affect bone density over time.
How much carbonated water should I drink?
Since there is no scientific evidence that sparkling water is bad for your health (it doesn’t affect your teeth or bones), you can drink as much as you please. Research shows that it improves the ability to swallow and reduces constipation.
In a particular controlled study, including 18 women in the post-menopausal stage, drinking a litre of sparkling water rich in sodium every day increased their ability to retain calcium than drinking plain water (2).
Tips for enjoying carbonated water while protecting your teeth
Carbonated water is better for your teeth compared to sugary drinks. Also, you should ensure that you drink a lot of fluoridated water regularly (it is the best drink for teeth).
Water infused with fluoride helps to fight off cavities and washes away food debris that bacteria can feed on. It also prevents the mouth from going dry (all factors that can increase the chances of developing cavities).
Be careful with what is contained in your carbonated water. Citrus flavoured carbonated water has high acid levels and increases the risk of eroding the enamel. You should enjoy such drinks in one sitting or better yet, with a meal. This way, your teeth won’t be exposed to high acid levels.
Sparkling water brands that add sugar to their water should not be considered carbonated water. Instead, they should be classified as sugar-sweetened drinks. Like sugary soda, these too contribute to cavities and tooth decay (3).
What to drink from a dental health perspective
Though carbonated soda and mineral water have some clear mineral benefits and no scientific proof points out the adverse effects on bones and teeth, we advise sticking to plain regular water. Tap water contains minerals in the right amounts and is free of carbon dioxide, salts, and sugars that might cause tooth problems in the future.
If you need flavoured water, you can add some natural fruits that you prefer to your water for flavour. This ensures that you maximize the benefits of water and reduce the risk of developing dental cavities.
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