This may surprise you, but sparkling water, seemingly a smart health-conscious beverage choice, is more acidic than fruit juice, wine and vinegar. The bubbles in sparkling water, with the same pH as diet cola, will erode your tooth enamel. Here’s what to do about it.
The pH of Sparkling Water and Other Beverages
Sparkling water seems quite harmless for our teeth, compared to the vast array of sugary drinks, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sparkling water has a pH of 3.0, much like diet cola. A pH of 7 is considered neutral, with higher numbers moving into the alkaline range. By comparison, popular smoothies and fruit juices have a pH of 3.4, wine has a pH of 3.6 and vinegar has a pH of 3.6
The Dangers of Sipping
While it’s possible to wear away tooth enamel by grinding your teeth, the most common way is to regularly sip and snack throughout the day. Slowly sipping drinks like juice, coffee, smoothies and yes, even sparkling water (seltzer water) will attack the teeth, and it takes 3 hours for your teeth to recover from the onslaught.
Acid in the mouth strips away important minerals. Saliva serves to clean away debris and redeposit lost minerals. However, sipping throughout the day reduces the amount of saliva and tooth enamel will erode, which causes sensitivity, pain and possibly tooth decay. It is best to immediately drink a beverage without sipping, and better still if you drink with a straw, rather than having the liquid swish around between your teeth.
What is Tooth Enamel Erosion?
Tooth enamel becomes eroded when acids eat away at the enamel of the teeth, which make it soft, weak and less protective. If the erosion is left to progress, the teeth’s edges may begin to crack and develop a rough feeling. Teeth can also yellow due to thinner enamel. When this occurs the dentine underneath may become more visible, and this can also cause pain or discomfort. Teeth that are experiencing early tooth erosion has a sand blasted appearance, or the front teeth tips will look transparent.
The Causes of Tooth Enamel Erosion
There are several things that can cause tooth enamel to erode. For foods, this include sodas, juices, smoothies and fizzy sparkling water. Lemon juice, nearly as acidic as battery acid, is another cause of tooth enamel erosion, as are smoothies and juices, alcohol and vinegar-based salad dressing. Personal habit and medical conditions which may cause enamel erosion include chewing on ice cubes, snacking without rinsing or brushing, bruxism and pregnancy (morning sickness acid reflux). Exercise, while healthy for other parts of the body, is not good for tooth enamel, since working out causes the mouth to become dry.
How to Prevent Tooth Erosion
Although fizzy water is not a friend to your tooth enamel, there are things that can prevent it. One simple fix is to eat a bit of cheese after consuming an acidic food. Cheese acts as a neutralizer for tooth enamel. Avoid snacking, especially if you can’t brush directly afterwards. Chomping on a crunchy type of vegetable (for example, celery, carrot, cucumber or cauliflower) will generate saliva to help clean your teeth. Chewing sugar-free chewing gum for about 10 minutes is also useful, as is keeping fluoride on the teeth by not rinsing away fluoride toothpaste with water after brushing. If you need to rinse, use a fluoride mouthwash.
In exciting news, there have been studies done in the U.K. for toothpaste that claims to be able to regenerate lost tooth enamel.