As long as we’re on the subject of beverages, let’s take a look at yet another type you’ll find near soft drinks, teas and juices: sparkling water.
What makes sparkling water sparkle is carbonation – the infusion of carbon dioxide gas into water. Here’s how it works:
The process makes the water more acidic than plain water, which tends to be neutral to alkaline. Acids are bad news for tooth enamel. Along with sugar, they’re a key reason why soft drinks are so brutal on oral health. Weakening the enamel, they make it easier for bacteria to infect the tooth.
Fortunately, the acidity of most unflavored sparkling waters isn’t nearly so great as that of sodas. Research has shown that although they’re more damaging than plain water, they’re about 100 times less erosive than sodas – which is to say not much of a problem at all.
But what about flavored waters? They can be a little more trouble.
This was demonstrated in a 2007 study published in the International Journal of Paedeatric Dentistry. The researchers measured the pH of a variety of flavored sparkling waters, then exposed tooth enamel to them and assessed the damage. All of the waters proved nearly as acidic as soda pop and more acidic than orange juice, “an established erosive potential drink.”
Consequently, the authors noted that flavored waters should be treated little differently than other soft drinks due to their ability to damage tooth enamel.
For the thing with tooth enamel is that it’s the only tissue your body can’t make more of. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. This is because, unlike the dentin it protects, enamel contains no living cells. It can be remineralized but not regrown.
So you need to take care of it – and here, good hygiene (brushing and flossing) and good nutrition are essential. If necessary, products such as MI Paste can be used to support the natural process of remineralization.
And that means avoiding – or only occasionally enjoying – flavored sparkling waters along with most other drinks that wind up in a store’s soft drink cases. (Another reason to avoid them: Many get their sweetness from aspartame, sucralose and other artificial sweeteners best left alone.)
It doesn’t necessarily mean forgoing flavored water all together, though. Why not make your own fruit- or veg-infused water, with or without a little sprizer added for the bubbles? No chemical additives. No artificial sweeteners. Just natural produce with flavors to add a little zing.
There are plenty of recipes and how-tos online. No, the result won’t be super sweet; it will be just as refreshing.