Soda, flavored sparkling waters, and fizzy water are popular choices to quench thirst. An ice cold glass of these beverages is enjoyable on a hot day, and all year long. But are these beverages safe for your teeth or are you putting the precious enamel which protects your teeth from cavities and damage at risk by enjoying a carbonated or sparkling beverage? The answer to this question depends on a lot of different factors which include the sugar content, the pH level, and how the beverage is carbonated.
Soda, Flavored Waters and Sugar
One of the main concerns about soda and some flavored waters is the sugar content. A glass of soda contains several teaspoons of sugar (regular Coke has 44 grams of sugar per 12 ounces!) and this sugar can contribute to the growth of unwanted bacteria in your mouth which can lead to damage to your teeth and gums. Many sodas are carbonated with phosphoric acid and have a high pH (some as high as 2.5 which is very acidic) which can lead to erosion of your teeth’s enamel. Even diet sodas can pose a threat to your teeth’s enamel if you consume them often.
Unless they are flavored with fruit extracts and no sugar, flavored sparkling water often fares no better than soda when it comes to sugar. Some flavored sparkling waters contain almost as much sugar as regular soda. Flavored sparkling water is not as acidic as soda with most having a pH of 5 or 6 which is closer to water which has a pH of 7. So while flavored sparkling water may be a good choice as far as being acidic, you need to be aware of how much sugar you are consuming.
Plain Sparkling and Fizzy Water
If you are craving a carbonated drink, choose plain sparkling or fizzy water without any sugar or fruit flavoring. Plain sparkling water is carbonated with carbon dioxide which while it may cause stomach bloat or gas, is not as acidic as soda. Plain sparking and fizzy waters have a pH between 5 or 6 and are not as acidic as regular or diet soda because they contain no fruit juice and are carbonated with carbon dioxide. But it is good to remember that any carbonated beverage can wear down the enamel of your teeth over time because of the cumulative effect of the carbonation and pH level of the drinks.
So Are They Safe or Not?
Most studies agree that plain sparkling water consumed in moderation will not greatly affect the health of your teeth. In a recent study at the University of Birmingham Cartiona Brown placed teeth in sparkling water to study its effects on the enamel. Some of the teeth had been coated to protect them, while some of the teeth were left uncoated. The study showed the uncoated teeth suffered only a minor amount of damage which was comparable to acidic fruit juices such as orange or grapefruit juice.
However, soda and some flavored sparkling waters pose a greater danger to the health of your teeth and gums because of the high sugar and high pH levels found in these beverages. Like all things moderation is the key. Be aware that any carbonated beverage, if consumed in a great quantity, can damage your teeth. Choose plain sparkling or fizzy water to reduce the danger of damage to the enamel of your teeth, and the growth of bacteria which can cause gum disease and cavities. While still water is the best choice to quench your thirst, plain sparkling water when consumed in moderation may also a good choice.