Here’s what you need to know about carbonation, how it can affect your teeth, and whether or not sparkling water is actually bad for you.
We all know that staying hydrated throughout the day is key to staying healthy. Many people drink sparkling water to add a little fizzy fun to their daily water intake, while others switch to seltzer to wean themselves off of sugary teas, sports drinks, and fruit juices. Drinking less sugar is always a good thing, but is drinking sugar-free but carbonated beverages like seltzer just trading one evil for another? Is carbonation, from soda or sparkling water, bad for your teeth? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why Is Soda So Bad For Your Teeth?
First, it’s important to separate seltzer from sodas. Soda containing sugar and many sugar substitutes can be bad for your teeth. Everything we eat or drink leaves behind a thin residue on our teeth and the sugary film left behind by sodas is particularly stubborn. The excess sugar left behind causes plaque buildup and cavities — permanently damaged areas in teeth that grow into tiny holes.
If cavities go untreated, they get larger and start affecting the innermost layers of your teeth. At best, tooth decay can cause tooth sensitivity and unsightly brown or black stains on your teeth. At worst, cavities cause full-fledged tooth loss.
Also, soft drinks contain many acids like citric acid, phosphoric acid, and tartaric acid. These acids add flavor and color to the soda, but they also slowly eat away at your tooth enamel. Your tooth enamel is the hard, semi-translucent external mineral layer that protects your teeth from daily wear and tear. The acids and sugars from soda work together to dissolve your enamel over time and expose the delicate dentine underneath. Once this happens, you’re more likely to develop cavities and tooth decay.
The best way to avoid tooth erosion, in addition to following dental hygiene best practices, is to not drink soda (diet or otherwise). But where does that leave seltzer?
How Carbonation Affects Your Dental Health
Seltzer and soda have one thing in common — carbonation — and that should be cause for some concern. The bubbles in your beverage are caused by a chemical reaction between carbon dioxide gas and the water in which it has been dissolved. When you drink seltzer or soda, you ingest the chemical reaction that causes carbonation and forms carbonic acid. Like all other acids, carbonic acid can weaken your tooth enamel and compromise your dental health.
However, the dangers of sparkling water and soda aren’t exactly equal. A study of the pH balances of over 400 beverages conducted for the Journal of the American Dental Association found that certain sparkling waters were ranked as only “minimally erosive.” Therefore, sparkling water is not as damaging to your teeth as soda. The general consensus among dental professionals is that unflavored carbonated water is better for your teeth than soda but worse than flat water, and you shouldn’t drink carbonated water constantly. Carbonic acid can still negatively impact your dental health so it’s best to drink carbonated water sparingly.
Talk To The Experts
Drinking soda regularly is far more likely to have a negative impact on your teeth than seltzer, but you should still err on the side of caution. If you practice good dental hygiene, skip the sodas, and only drink carbonated water every once in a while, you’re well on your way to keeping your teeth healthy and strong.