Lately, 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
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.
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.