If you’re a fan of fizzy waters, you’d agree that there’s something special compared to their still, non-bubbly brethren.
Whether it’s the fruity pep of Perrier, the zesty bite of Pellegrino, or the not-so-great bitterness of the leftover club soda from last night’s party, the bubbly texture provides a subtle distraction to desk-bound workers and the like.
But like all things fun, there’s a cost.
For fizzy water, that’s acid – carbonic acid – that gives it its bubbles. And that acidity can gradually wear away tooth enamel. It is relatively weak acid (unless it has extra citric/other acids), with a more neutral pH level…hopefully you paid attention in chemistry. To compare, bottled water has a pH level of 7, which is netural; Perrier has a pH of 5.5.
The flavouring in seltzer waters can bring that pH level down further still, making the beverages even harsher on tooth enamel. One 2007 study tested human teeth and its exposure to flavoured sparkling water for 30 minutes; it did as much corrosive damage as orange juice.
“It would be inappropriate to consider these flavored sparkling waters as a healthy dental alternative to other acidic drinks,” that study concluded.
In other words: sparkling water is not better for your teeth than other high acidity drinks, like O.J. or sodas.
“There is a theoretical risk of tooth erosion, but the drinks would have to be consumed over a long period of time,” said Damien Walmsley, a professor of dentistry at the University of Birmingham in England.
“My advice is to keep acidic drinks to mealtimes, and if you have to sip drinks between meals, then plain water is the safest.”
The unflavoured seltzers, like La Croix, are still far less damaging to your chicklets than stuff like Coke, with all things considered. The amount of seltzer you can safely consume varies too. Individual factors like how much acid and sugar you consume in your regular diet, your history of cavities, and whether you get enough fluoride from tap water and toothpaste, all play a role.
If you’re concerned about your abnormal seltzer drinking habits, you can always dilute the carbonated water with regular water, or even just swish with regular water after.