Sparkling water is often seen as a great alternative to alcoholic drinks or when you want to increase your water intake but just cannot deal with plain boring water. There is something about the bubbles that makes sparkling water special. However, if you are concerned about dental health you might need to be careful when it comes to sparkling water.
Beverages that have a low pH level means they are more acidic and that acid can wear away tooth enamel over time. The lower the pH rating the higher the level of acid. To put it in perspective, plain water has a pH level of 7, which is neutral. Coffee measures a 5, lemon juice is a 2, and stomach acid is a 1. Ideally, we should be choosing drinks that have a pH level above four which is considered the “critical threshold”. Anything below four increases the risk of dental erosion.
In a study completed in 2016, most beverages tested including sports drinks, sodas, juices, fruit punches, and many flavoured waters, had a pH level below four making them too acidic for our teeth. If you only consume these types of drinks occasionally, it is unlikely to do harm. However, if you consume these types of drink multiple times each day, the risk of damage increases.
In the case of sparking water, two types were tested and both were above the four threshold. S. Pellegrino sparkling natural mineral water had a pH level of 4.96 and Perrier carbonated water tested at 5.25. That is good news. However, adding flavouring to the water increases the acid level. For example, plain Dasani water had a pH value of 5.03 whereas the Dasani Lemon water came in at 3.03. If you are reaching for the flavoured sparkling water chances are the pH level is lower than your teeth would like.
What does carbonation have to do with acid levels? Sparkling water contains dissolved carbon dioxide gas that turns into carbonic acid, which is, what gives the drink its fizz but also adds the acid. How the drink is carbonated plays a role as well. Using an at-home carbonation systems increases the acidic level (decreases the pH). Testing showed that the water from a Soda Stream carbonator ranged from a pH level of 3.58 to 3.74, which is below the acid threshold resulting in water that is too acidic.
Although plain sparkling water is better for you than sport drinks, sodas, or fruit punch, how much you drink may cause some concerns. Sipping on sparkling water repeatedly throughout the day lowers the pH levels in your mouth and may increase the risk of enamel erosion. If you are drinking more than two or three bottle per day, think about switching some of that to plain water. If you are concerned, talk to a dentist about the health of your teeth.