While at the beach this past summer, I noticed that everybody was drinking fizzy water. It got me wondering about the dental effects of fizzy water. So I did some research and I have a few conclusions. But first, let me explain two important factors of beverages as they relate to dental health.
The first thing to consider is the pH of the beverage. If you remember back to high school chemistry, the pH scale is 1 to 14 with the range of 1-7 being acidic (the lower the number, the more acidic) and 7-14 being basic (the higher the number, the more basic). The more acidic the beverage, the worse it is for your teeth. To be more specific, research shows that beverages with a pH of less than 5.5 will begin to dissolve enamel, the outer portion of the tooth. The longer your exposure to an acidic drink (meaning how long it takes you to drink the beverage), the more damage you do to the enamel.
The second thing to consider is the sugar content of the beverage. This is because the bacteria in our mouths digest sugar and the waste byproduct is acid. For about 5-10 minutes after consumption of sugar, acid is produced and the pH inside the mouth drops below 5.5. This is when cavities form. A key takeaway here is that sugar, by itself, is not bad for teeth. Instead, it is the acid that is produced by the bacteria in our mouth that causes cavities.
But back to fizzy water. Here are the key takeaways:
- All fizzy waters are not created equally. The pH of fizzy water ranges from about 2.5 to 5.5. Unflavored fizzy water tends to be in the 5-5.5 range; flavored to taste fruity, however, is typically more acidic, usually around a pH of 3. Many fizzy waters are sugar-free, but some are not. So pay attention to what you are buying, especially if it contains sugar.
- Fizzy water that contains sugar is almost as bad as drinking soda. Sodas are both acidic (they have pHs around 3) and sugary. This is a terrible combination for your teeth. Fizzy water with sugar typically will have similar pHs as sodas, but they do contain less sugar. Because they have less sugar than soda, it is a slightly better choice than soda.
- Sugar-free fizzy water isn’t a great choice for your teeth, but it’s better than many other beverages. Without the sugar, the only danger of these sugar-free choices is the pH. They are acidic enough to dissolve teeth, but to really do damage, they need a long exposure time to the teeth.
- The faster you drink fizzy water, the less time your teeth will be subjected to the acid and the less damage that may occur! If you are drinking sugar-free fizzy water, the only way to really do significant damage to your teeth is to sip on it all day long, which will keep the acidity of your mouth low enough to dissolve teeth.
- Do not drink fizzy water with Invisalign! If you trap it on your teeth with your aligners, it is like sipping on it all day…you are trapping acid on your teeth!
In conclusion, if you like fizzy water (like me and all of my family members), choose one that is sugar-free. Enjoy it in moderation, trying not to sip on it for extended periods of time. If you need an appointment, schedule a complimentary consultation.