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Is Sparkling Water Bad For Your Teeth? It Depends

A Look Into Sparkling Water’s Impact On Your Teeth and How to Drink It While Keeping Your Mouth Happy

If you are reading this, then you may be concerned that drinking sparkling water is bad for your teeth.  And yes, sparkling water tends to be slightly acidic which is a factor to causing teeth to demineralize.  

However, there’s more to it and not all sparkling waters have the same pH level.  If you are wondering, how can you continue to consume this beverage while keep your teeth healthy, then you’ve come to the right place.

a group of people smiling while clinking together glasses of sparkling water
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Now, whether you are strolling through a grocery store, hanging out at a coffee shop, zipping in and out of a convenience stop or dining at a restaurant it seems like everywhere you go these days you are bound to stumble upon some sort of sparkling water brands. 

In fact, if you feel like you are seeing an explosion of sparkling water brands, you are perceiving things correctly.  According to a report by Grand View Research in 2021 the sparkling water market size in the United States was estimated to be $33.43 billion and is forecasted to be worth $67.6 billion by 2030. 

This sparkling water beverage industry consists of club soda, seltzer, sparkling water, and tonic. And it appears as though every major beverage company has some sort of bubbly water.

Even though you may refer to it as sparkling water, it technically could be a club soda or tonic too.  Adding even more to the confusion on which one is the best option for teeth health.

So, if you are ready to figure out what to bubbly water to drink and keep, you’re mouth happy, then read. Throughout this blog post you’ll learn how those bubbles impact your mouth, the good and bad when it comes to sparkling water and your dental health, tips on ways to enjoy this bubbly goodness and maintain happy teeth, and what ingredients to lookout out when picking a brand. 

What Are Sparkling Water Effects On Your Teeth?

Not sure what exactly makes plain old water bubbly.  Well, if you ever wanted to know, I can help you out.  The bubbles in sparkling water come from carbonation.

Now, wondering what exactly carbonated water is.  Essentially, bubbly, sparkling water is made when water is put under pressure via gas and carbon dioxide is added to it.  You can read more in-depth about this process over on Soda Stream’s blog

The pressure, gas, and carbon dioxide combination is what brings about those lovely sparkling bubbles in the water.  However, now that the water has changed from flat, regular water to sparkling water, the impact it has on your mouth has changed too.

If you are a little confused as to how some carbonation has changed the water, here’s a little background on pH, acid, and bases.

pH and Mouth Health Background

pH can be measured on a scale from zero to 14. Water has a pH of around seven, which is considered a neutral pH.  With zero making a substance very acidic and 14 making a substance very basic, sometimes referred to as alkaline.

With water’s pH of seven, it falls right in the middle of the scale and is considered a neutral substance. Your mouth, mainly your saliva has a pH, between 6.7 – 7.6.  So, in terms of pH your mouth is a neutral environment. 

Acidic foods and drinks, also known as having a pH below 7 can contribute to tooth decay by creating an environment with acidic saliva which can enable bacteria to adhere to your teeth and erode enamel.  The longer and more acidic environment your mouth experiences the bigger the impact enamel breaking down bacteria can have.

So, you want to try to reduce consuming foods and drinks that contribute to making your saliva acidic.

Sparkling Water pH and What That Does To Your Mouth

woman in dental pain holding a glass of sparkling water. Images of decayed tooth, carbon dioxide and bacteria next to her.

The pH of sparkling water can range anywhere from 3.69 – 5.34 with an average pH of 4.4.  This range depends on the flavor you choose, other ingredients added to it, and whether you drink it hot, cold or at room temperature.

Regardless, of which sparkling water you choose, the likelihood that the drink has an acidic pH is very high.  But the pH of sparkling water tends to only be slightly acidic and there are plenty of other foods and beverages that are much more acidic than this.

However, because sparkling water does fall into the acidic category on the pH scale, it can alter the pH of saliva in your mouth and can be a factor in developing cavities.  

Please do not feel discouraged or let down if you love sparkling water.  Just because it is slightly acidic doesn’t mean you should cut it out of your diet.  Keep reading to learn more about ways to continue sipping this liquid goodness and maintain mouth health.

The Good and Bad of Bubbly, Carbonated Water On Your Oral Health

Like with many things, there are pros and cons when it comes to consuming sparkling water.  And concluding if the pros outweigh the cons for you, is a personal decision.  So, I’ve tried to outline each aspect of bubbly water and teeth health in an effort to help you understand what makes the most sense for your specific situation.

The Good

1. Helps Keep You Hydrated

At the end of the day, sparkling water is still that, water!  With many of us struggling to meet our daily hydration needs sparkling water is a great way to drink up.  

Maintaining adequate daily hydration is important for our mouth health as it helps prevent dry mouth and keep our saliva production up.  And guess what, dry mouth is another contributing factor to tooth decay!

2. Increases Your Feeling of Fullness and Satiety

You may not think of this benefit as being good for your oral health, but it sure is.  If you feel full and you don’t feel hungry you may be less likely to snack or graze on food between meals.  

This break in eating means fewer food particles and any acidic bacteria from acidic food and beverages could stick to your teeth.  This means that there’s less stuff in your mouth that could cause cavities.

3. Helps Decrease Your Consumption of Sugar Sweetened Cavity Causing Beverages

If you are someone who loves soda, sports drinks, energy drinks or fruit juice, then drinking sparkling water may help replace or reduce drinking some or all these drinks.

Soda, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices tend to have a low, acidic pH.  On top of that, these drinks tend to be loaded with added sugar.  The low pH added sugar combination makes for an ideal cavity creating, enamel erosion, teeth damaging the environment in your mouth.  

If you are curious to see just how acidic (aka erosive) some of these drinks can be, check out the pH graphic below.

ph scale and beverages. energy drink 1.5 - 3.3, soda 2.5 - 3.4, sports drink 2.9 - 4.0, sparkling water 3.69 - 5.34 and water 6.7 - 7.6

And for even more information on pH and acidic drinks, check out my other blog post “Is Lemon Water Bad For Your Teeth” and see the graphic there too

Plus, added sugar can lead to increase or excess calorie consumption.  This can lead to weight gain or contribute to developing chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes.

So, yeah if you fall into the regular drinker of sugar sweetened beverages, then a real benefit to sparkling water is its potential to reduce your consumption of them and thus reduce the damage they can do to your teeth!

The Bad

1. Demineralizes Your Teeth

As you likely understand by now sparkling water is acidic.  Acidic beverages wear away the mineral content on your teeth.  

Enamel the outer layer of your teeth is high in minerals and sparkling water can break down the minerals on it.  This reduces the strength of the enamel, which over time can cause more of the inner layers of your teeth to be exposed and lead to tooth decay.

2. Could Take The Place of Neutral or More Alkaline (Basic) pH Drinks

As previously mentioned, water has a neutral pH of seven.  Just like your saliva’s mostly neutral pH.  So, your mouth likes water because it supports a neutral pH and helps wash away any food debris.  

Other drinks, such as milk tend to have a pH of seven or higher (for more information on milk and dental health, see my blog post “Is Milk Good For Your Teeth?”).  If you prefer to enjoy acidic foods and drinks, having milk in your diet helps to bring the pH of your mouth up to a more favorable neutral number.

So, if sparkling water is replacing milk or regular flat water in your daily drink consumption, then you could be exposing your mouth to a more acidic environment throughout the day.  Again, this is another way that more bacteria could be present and lead to tooth decay.

3.  Could Contain Added Ingredients That Are Harmful To Your Mouth

Sometimes sparkling water can be flavored with products such as added sugar, fruit juice, potassium, or sodium bicarbonate.  These added ingredients can cause the water to be more acidic.  The lower the acidity of the beverage, the potential for worse damage it can cause to your teeth if regularly consumed over time.

The Good The Bad Takeaways For Your Oral Health

sparkling water and teeth health the good and bad infographic

As discussed at the beginning of this section, the good and the bad of sparkling water on your oral and overall health should be interpreted on how it relates to your current health state, your desired health state, and your lifestyle.

Depending on why you drink sparkling water can impact how much emphasis you put on a good or bad to its impact on your oral and overall health.  

If you find that sparkling water is something you want to keep in your diet, scroll on down for some tips.

Ingredients To Watch Out For

Plain, unflavored sparkling water may just contain water and carbon dioxide.  If a can or bottle is labelled with just these two ingredients it likely has just a slightly acidic pH (pH on the closer side to seven).

When ingredients start to get added to sparkling water the pH may be lowered and be even more acidic. Typically, ingredients are added to it to flavor the water.  

Here are some ingredients to watch out for when reading a sparkling water label:

  • disodium phosphate
  • potassium bicarbonate
  • potassium citrate
  • potassium sulfate
  • phosphorus
  • citric acid
  • sodium citrate
  • sodium bicarbonate
  • sugar

The more ingredients a sparkling water has, the more likely it is to have a lower pH.  Sometimes it can be hard to find sparkling water you enjoy and not have it contain some added ingredients.  Try to find a sparkling water you’ll be happy to sip on with the least number of ingredients in it.  

Tips On How To Enjoy Sparkling Water and Teeth Health

Like many people, cutting out sparkling water is just not realistic to their lifestyle or preferences.  And if that is true for you too, well here are some tips on how you can continue having your sparkling water while ensuring you’re keeping your teeth healthy too.

  1. Drink plain, unflavored sparkling water with just water and carbon dioxide as ingredients.
  2. Drink your sparkling water in one sitting, try not to sip on it throughout the day.
  3. Have some water after you finish drinking your sparkling water.  Or try having some sips of water in between sparkling water sips.
  4. Enjoy your sparkling water with meals.
  5. Wait about an hour to brush your teeth after finishing your sparkling water.
  6. Have some sugar-free gum after finishing your sparkling water.
  7. Sip it through a straw.
balance sparkling water and teeth health tips. brush teeth, have regular flat water, chew sugarless gum, drink through a straw

Conclusion: Like Everything Else Balance and Moderation Are Key!

The presence of sparkling water at events, grocery stores, and just in our daily lives does not appear to be going away.  If this beverage brings your joy and is something that you look forward to, there is no need to omit it from your daily drinking habit.

As with most things, moderation and balance are key to slurping up sparkling water and supporting the health of your teeth.  Hopefully, from this article, you now can conclude how your current sparkling water habits are impacting your oral health and know what actions you can take to maintain or improve it.

Cheers to Bubbly Hydration and Teeth Health

And lastly, If you are looking for help with meal plans or nutrition coaching for general dental health or if you have an upcoming oral surgery and need help with what to eat before and after, head on over to my contact page and reach out.

Is sparkling water bad for your teeth? It depends! Read to learn more. Graphic

Some Additional Sparkling Water Resources:

Is Sparkling Water Bad For Your Teeth? It Depends

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