A Dental Blog Focused on Improving Oral and Dental Health

Is Sparkling Water Bad For Your Teeth?

Perrier Lemon Sparkling Mineral WaterLately, my wife and I have been trying to kick our habit of carbonated beverages with sugar and artificial sweeteners.  To fill the void, we've started sampling various types of seltzer water, club soda, sparkling water, and carbonated mineral water.  Our favorite, although a bit expensive for our tight dental student budget is Perrier Lemon carbonated mineral water.

Since I've recently written a lot about how the acids that we put in our mouths can erode the enamel on our teeth, I decided to do some research and find out if sparkling water can erode teeth.  Luckily somebody else has already done the research!

Although sparkling water contains nothing more than carbonated water (perhaps with a few minerals) and natural flavors, I didn't expect it to be as acidic as soda pop, which also can contain phosphoric acid.  Unfortunately, sparkling water is still very acidic due to the carbonation which can combine with the water to form carbonic acid.

Yes, Sparkling Water Can Harm Your Teeth

Pellegrino Sparkling Water

Sparkling Water Can Damage Your Teeth

A group of researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom wanted to find out if sparkling water can cause enamel erosion.

First, they measured the pH of the sparkling water and found that it has a pH of right around 3.  To compare this with other drinks, you can view this article about the different drinks that erode our teeth.

They took some extracted teeth and placed them in glasses filled with different types of flavored carbonated waters. They found that the sparkling water does eat away tooth enamel.

In fact, they found that flavored sparkling water has as much or more of an erosive effect on teeth than orange juice, which is known to be very erosive to the teeth.

Conclusion

Here is what the researchers concluded, straight from their paper written in the King's English:

Flavoured sparkling waters should be considered as potentially erosive, and preventive advice on their consumption should recognize them as potentially acidic drinks rather than water with flavouring.

In other words, sparkling water can erode your tooth enamel.  It's probably not something you need to worry about though, unless you drink carbonated water several times per day.  Our saliva can repair the enamel through a process called re-mineralization as long as your teeth aren't being bathed in the acid constantly.


Tags: , , ,

I recently updated the website and it reset all of the sharing counters to 0. If you found this post helpful, please like, tweet, or +1 it. Thanks!

Share, Bookmark, or Email  

60 Comments |  Leave A Comment

  1. Dang! I love sparkling water and wanted to believe that I was being healthy by skipping the pop! I guess I will just console myself by knowing it is the lesser of many evils. Thanks for the info though, good to know :)

    • No need to worry, Alyssa! Sparkling water really isn't too bad for your teeth when you compare it to regular soda pop and even a Diet Coke. In moderation, it shouldn't do much harm.

    • I wonder if the Carbonation in coke eats away your enamel (along with the phosphoric acid).

    • in the study u only refer to flavored sparkling water & u seem to translate then to sparkling water is there any reliable study on plain sparkling water?

  2. How about unflavoured sparkling water, is that as damaging as the flavoured sparkling water?

    • Hi Jess - I would think that unflavored sparkling water would be slightly less damaging to your teeth than flavored sparkling water simply because many of the flavorings that are added are acids, which aren't friendly to our teeth!

      This study shows that flavored sparkling water definitely does eat away at the enamel on the teeth.

      Another study has shown that some sparkling mineral waters are around 100 times less damaging to the teeth than comparable soft drinks.

      It is important to keep in mind that sparkling water is less damaging than soft drinks and it is much healthier for your body than traditional soda drinks. I think that having it in moderation is fine, because our bodies are able to repair the teeth when they are slightly damaged from acidic drinks.

      I hope that helps, Jess. Thanks for your question!

  3. Bit of a misleading title, no?

    flavoured sparkling water is not the same as sparkling water.

    • Hi Luke - The title simply asks the question of whether or not it is bad for your teeth. I wouldn't call it misleading though.

      Although flavored sparkling waters are more damaging than regular sparkling water, I believe that non-flavored sparkling water also has a slightly negative effect on your teeth because the carbonation breaks down into carbonic acid, which is acidic.

      In any case, they are much better for you than traditional soft drinks that contain sugar and phosphoric acid.

      Thanks for your comment, Luke. Let me know if that clarifies things a little more.

  4. I'm not much of a fan of regular soft drinks, but I do like sparkling water, and sparkling water with juice -orange or cranberry -even more. This looks like the worst of all the possibilities, from what I read above. Is there anything I can do after I finish my corrosive drink to counteract the carbonic acid? Would rinsing with baking soda and tap water be a good idea?

    • Hi Jim - As far as I know, you should be fine if you rinse out your mouth. I have heard some people say that you can use baking soda and water. I would think that as long as you rinse the acid away, then your saliva (which is basic) will take over and start to repair the enamel that was ever-so-slightly dissolved.

      I hope that helps - let me know if you have any other questions.

  5. How soon after drinking this should we brush our teeth? I believe I read it's better to wait a little while, right?

    • Hi Sierra - I have heard that you should wait anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour after drinking acidic drinks before brushing. I've tried finding a reliable source to confirm this, but haven't found one yet.

      By simply rinsing your mouth out, you will get rid of the acid. Since most sparkling water doesn't have any sugar in it, you wouldn't really need to worry about brushing because you wouldn't have given the bacteria in your mouth anything to eat, so they wouldn't be able to grow and multiply.

      Another thing you can try is to chew sugar-free gum. The gum will cause you to produce more saliva, which can help remineralize the tiny bit of enamel that was damaged.

      I hope that helps, Sierra - Thanks for your comment!

  6. You don't give a reference for your statement that "sparkling water is still very acidic". The study you give a link to was very specifically for flavoured sparkling waters. How do you know that unflavoured water is "very acidic"?

    • Hi Eve - Thanks for your comment! I probably should have clarified that a little bit more.

      When water is carbonated, carbon dioxide is dissolved into the water. Carbon dioxide can react with the water to form carbonic acid. It is this carbonic acid that makes unflavored sparkling water acidic.

      As for a source, in the book Modern Food Microbiology by Monroe it talks about the pH difference between carbonated water and non-carbonated water. It states, "The pH of non-carbonated water should be around neutrality, whereas that of carbonated water is typically between 3 and 4.0 - ideally at or below pH 3.5.

      Here's a link where you can read that reference in context on Google Books.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment, Eve!

  7. I decided to find the answer to this question today and found your article and now I'm curious what you think of this...
    I drink plain water most of the time but I still like fizzy drinks too, so I started making my own carbonated "mineral" water a few years ago. All i do is add a pinch of sea salt and a dash of baking soda to a liter of filtered tap water and then carbonate it.

    Could the baking soda change the PH of the water at all?

    • Hi Sherry - I don't think that the salt would have much of an effect on the pH. The baking soda on the other hand is basic, so by adding it, you are increasing the pH and then by carbonating the water, you are decreasing the pH. Depending on the relative amounts of the carbonation and baking soda, the water could be either basic or acidic.

      Adding baking soda should definitely make the water more friendly to your teeth. I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment, Sherry.

  8. Hi Tom,
    Thank you for that link which took me to the exact reference in Modern Food Microbiology by Monroe - that was great! (I'm afraid that I have no savvy in referencing accurately within a book or article, so below I just gave the general link & 'copy & pasted'.)

    Initially, I noticed that the study from Uni of Birmingham (Brown 2007) which you reference & link (again, thank you) in your article "Is Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth" (posted 4 Jn 2010), tested only flavoured sparkling waters.
    In searching for studies on unflavoured sparkling water, I came across an experiment from the Uni of Birmingham, 2001. Here is the link to its abstract:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11556958

    It states that in the 2001 experiment:
    "Sparkling mineral waters showed slightly greater dissolution than still waters, but levels remained low and were of the order of one hundred times less than the comparator soft drinks... suggesting that carbonation of drinks may not be an important factor per se in respect of erosive potential...Thus, mineral waters appear to offer a safe alternative to more erosive acidic beverages and their complex mineral ion compositions may positively influence any dissolution processes at the tooth surface."

    This study is much older, but seems to say that in spite of the acidic numbers given for (unflavoured?) sparkling water in the Modern Food Microbiology book, unflavoured sparkling waters are for some not yet determined reason significantly less erosive to human teeth than flavoured sparkling waters. . .

    How do you understand this information?

    • Hi Eve - Thanks for sharing that study. Soft drinks are by far the worst for your teeth, then come flavored sparkling waters (due to the acidic flavors added), then unflavored sparkling water, and then regular water.

      I would say that flavored sparkling waters are only worse due to the acidic flavorings that are added. Although the carbonation does make any drink more acidic, it looks like it may not be acidic enough to do too much damage to your teeth.

      I would definitely advise to drink soft drinks sparingly, but I don't think that sparkling waters pose a great enough threat to your teeth to really bother changing your drinking habits.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment, Eve!

    • This was helpful, thanks

  9. Thanks, my enamel is wearing and I was trying to find out why, your article was very helpful.

  10. I drink 2 liters of sparkling water a day. Is that not moderation?

    • Hi Sergio - 2 Liters does seem like a lot. The main factor is how much time it spends in contact with your teeth. If you drink through a straw, you could obviously drink a lot without it really affecting your teeth. You might find this article helpful: How to Drink Soda Pop and Keep Your Teeth Happy. While sparkling water and sugary soda pop are very different, there are some similarities.

      I hope that helps - Thanks for your comment, Sergio. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  11. My husband only drinks seltzer at home, at least one 1L bottle daily. My 13-yr-old daughter is now following his habit. I'm concerned about calcium loss and especially lack of fluoride. I'm trying to get them to drink plain (NYC) ice water, but not having much luck. I've been buying either Poland Springs lemon flavored or Trader Joe's lemon flavored. Now it seems that at least I should buy the plain one. Should I be concerned about their teeth? Thanks for the info.!

    • Hi Susan - Here's a copy of what I wrote in a previous comment: "The main factor is how much time it spends in contact with your teeth. If you drink through a straw, you could obviously drink a lot without it really affecting your teeth. You might find this article helpful: How to Drink Soda Pop and Keep Your Teeth Happy. While sparkling water and sugary soda pop are very different, there are some similarities."

      Over time, the acid may start to wear down their teeth. It is a gradual process. You might want to have your husband talk to his dentist to see if he has any effects of dental erosion in his mouth to see if is affecting him, if not it may not be too much of a problem. It's a lot better to drink seltzer than it is to drink soda pop.

      I hope that helps, Susan. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment!

  12. Please note the specific qualifier, "Flavored"... I have done some reading on other sites and the negative effect doesn't seem to apply to plain unflavored seltzer which is all I drink anyway.

  13. I'm a curious guy:
    Why do you consider on a study made on extracted teeth?
    Is the context of "metabolism" so... uninteresting? :D
    You should know that things taken outside behave differently from things inside the mouth and the organism in general.
    Cheers, Alex. :)

    • Hi Alex - I'm not aware of any studies that show the effect of sparkling water on human subjects. It would be a tricky study to conduct since the effect on the enamel would depend on the overall diet of the person and not just how much sparkling water they drink. Thanks for your comment.

  14. This was great, exactly what I was looking for............I have recently started drinking sparkling water many times a day instead of drinking soft drinks...... I love the carbonation. Now I am going to rinse my mouth out a few times a day for the sake of my teeth. Thanks again

  15. humm.. i'm in trouble. i'm totally addicted to Perrier, drinking more than 2L/day (actually, that's the only water I've been drinking for a couple of years now). I've noticed some corrosion on my teeth (bottom) ... but I cannot stop drinking sparkling water (much better than the regular one). Any suggestion on how to compensate this acidity from the Perrier?

  16. This article is misleading just like the previous comment stated. FLAVORED sparkling water has sugars and other crap in it...the study WAS NOT conducted on sparkling water...you can hypothesize all you want, but the bottom line is your not a scientist. I checked out your link to the study and couldn't even get a full version of the study, just the abstract, which your readers would have appreciated if you did a full study. Still keep up the marketing work, I'm sure it'll come in handy once you become a dentist, I just hope you don't end up lying to your customers.

    After all the scathing comments, I'd like to say that the site does seem well intentioned though. : )

    • Hi there - The flavored sparkling waters I referred to above are unsweetened, such as Perrier and all of the unsweetened seltzer water found at your regular grocery store. My intent was not to mislead anyone, I just wanted to provide the results of a scientific study so that people can make informed decisions about their oral health.

      Of course, flavored sparkling water with sugar is the same as soda pop and is not good for your teeth.

      Unfortunately, I am unable to publish the full study since I don't own the copyright. Thanks for your thoughts.

  17. I found this link: http://nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com/is-carbonation-bad-for-you.aspx which contradicts much of yours. I do think that flavored carbonated water isn't the best choice, but plain seems to be a safe bet.

    • Hi Robyn - The Nutrition Diva doesn't really contradict this article. We both cited the same study from the University of Birmingham which I quoted above. They do warn against consuming too much flavored sparkling water.

      She also cites a study about carbonated mineral water, and I probably could have made a better distinction between those in the article above. Evidently, the minerals in the water can help offset the acid. Thanks for sharing that, Robyn!

  18. Misleading 'San Pellegrino' photo with your text that states
    "First, they measured the pH of the sparkling water and found that it has a pH of right around 3."

    San Pellegrino has a ph of 7.7, hardly acidic.
    Perrier is acidic yes.

    You can easily find non acidic sparkling water, people just need to read the label. The pH should be displayed.

    • If you read the label of most soda water you will find it contains sodium. The sodium is there because a neutralising agent was ALREADY added at manufacture. This varies by manufacture so unflavoured soda water could be anywhere from mildly acid to mildly alkali. So I am not surpised you report San Pelligrino as 7.7.

  19. I looked for this answer because I have been on a weight loss program, wanted and need to lose a few pounds, and I never drank a lot of pop anyway. But I decided I would try carbonated water just to spice it up a little from just "plain" water. ;-)) However, I have noticed my teeth, in the last 2-3 weeks, have been incredibly sensitive. I had a sense that the carbonated water may be the culprit...at least to some degree. Anyway, I'll discontinue drinking it and see if there is a change. Thanks!

  20. Does plain seltzer contain floride?

  21. The real problem is not sparkling water but the horrible diseases that dentists cause with their poisonous materials. Dentists have very high rates of cancer and other degenerative diseases. They also have the highest rates of suicide. So folks, stop worrying about drinking sparkling water and start worrying about your dentist. Oh and google failed root canals, very common, and see what havoc these cause.

    • Hi Steve - I'd love some facts to backup your statements. The medical field does have a higher rate of suicide and I think that has to do with the long-lasting results of decisions that we sometimes have to make fairly quickly.

      Google Diamonte Driver and you'll read the tragic story of a boy who died (a root canal could've saved him)

  22. I don't buy it.

    The abstract from the U of Birmingham paper says:

    "Sparkling mineral waters showed slightly greater dissolution than still waters, but levels remained low and were of the order of one hundred times less than the comparator soft drinks."

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11556958

  23. The key point is that it is "flavoured sparkling waters" which are significantly erosive to dental enamel. Plain sparkling waters although do erode enamel the level at which they do is not deemed to be a significant factor. From the 5 mins i spent looking this up online. Top tip use a straw when drinking acidic/fizzy/sweetened drinks. Or pound a big gulp of cherry coke and add extra sugar to it with loads of ice and crush it real hard with your teeth like i do. While eating a ton of fizzy sweets.

  24. Not sure why everyone's criticisms of this post just reiterate previous comments... if you bothered to read through the discussion first you would find that the same points have been made several times.

  25. Thank you! Very helpful! Much appreciated.

  26. I am an American living in the UK and what isn't clear on this page is that flavored sparkling water in the UK is almost all sweetened. This sweetening (real or sweetener) must be contributing to the teeth decay problem. It is very difficult to find sparkling water that has only a hint of fruit flavour and no sweetener (such as Poland Spring or Vintage Seltzer which are both available in New York). Please bear this in mind when considering these results. I am not a scientist but I am sure this is worst than American seltzer and other unsweetened sparkling drinks.

  27. What about Ferrarelle? It is a naturally carbonated water, by the volcanic minerals in roccamonfina mountains (Naples, Italy). Do you think the effect could be less?

  28. Actually I've read that it's the flavoring in flavored sparkling water that is corrosive, not the carbonation itself. I'd be curious to see this experiment done with plain, unflavored seltzer instead. Perrier without the lemon flavor I *believe* is not harmful.

  29. Damn! I guess I will have to start shaking my Perrier before I drink it!

    Jim

  30. What about plain water with carbonation from a Soda Stream?

    • That would be slightly acid due to the dissolved carbon dioxide. Traditionally seltzer water or soda water as we call it in the UK has things added to it to neutralize it so you may be better off with shop bought soda than from your soda stream - unless you neutralize it yourself with bicarbonate of soda. Either way it is much less acidic than flavoured soda. Look up "Soda Water" on Wikipedia for the facts.

  31. Discussion always helps an article. This article is a much needed advocate of drinking sugarless, phosphoric acid-less and colorless water drinks. When looking at it in perspective one would do themselves a big favor (including their teeth) by drinking sparkling water vs. soda pop.

    Soda pop is terribly bad for you on so many levels. Once you ditch the sugar for aspartame or other synthetics you end up polluting your body. So I'll state here what the writer would not, due to his impartiality - - - "Do drink sparkling water".

    Imagine if the developed world would advocate water (in all its forms) how many people would be able to wean themselves off of the great evils of other more harmful drinks. So many find themselves at the plain water - soda pop crossroads when they need not be. Plain water may not be a reasonable alternative to the strong taste and mouth/throat feel of a soda pop.

    To lessen the affect of any corrosive substance upon the teeth one would simply lessen the time it is in contact with them. So the best advice would be never to extract your teeth and soak them in anything for too long.

  32. Use a straw perhaps?

Leave a Response


Disclaimer

This site is intended for educational, informative, and entertainment purposes only. It should not replace a visit to a health professional. Only a health professional that is examining you in person, with a patient-doctor relationship can truly understand your unique situation. Click here to read the full disclaimer of Oral Answers.

Participate

Thanks for stopping by Oral Answers! Did you know that every article has a lively discussion in the comments section? There's no need to even register to leave a comment, although you might want to read the commenting guidelines.

Want an icon to show up when you leave a comment? On this gravatar-enabled site, all you have to do is upload your custom icon at Gravatar.com.

You can also subscribe to our RSS feed and get updates whenever a new article is posted!

About Me

Tom, Creator of Oral AnswersHi, I'm Tom. I recently graduated from dental school and am now a dentist in Bridgewater, Virginia. I started this blog to help people take better care of their teeth. You can learn more about me or ask me a question.

Thanks for stopping by!