Still or Sparkling? Is Mineral Water Harmful To Your Teeth?

How acid damage is just around the corner

Can Mineral Water Harm Your Teeth?
Mineral Water May Be Harmful To Teeth. Getty Images

You’ve probably heard the warnings that acidic foods and drinks can inflict erosive damage to your teeth. Today it’s difficult to go a day without someone putting a bottle of bubbly drink in front of us.

While soda drinks, like cola or lemonade, which deliver acidic punch with a solid dose of sugar are widely known to be hazardous for our dental health, there’s an entire spectrum of acidic drinks that may be causing erosion to the teeth.

One option, which is sparkly mineral water, is often considered safe, however, it may pose as much of a danger as any other carbonated thirst quencher.

Why are acidic drinks bad for our teeth?

The whole problem with beverages that lower the pH in our mouth is that they interrupt the mineral exchange that occurs on the hard outer shell of your teeth. Also known as tooth enamel, that shiny white coating is a mix of minerals such as calcium and phosphate which exist in an equilibrium with our saliva and body.

During a meal, we decrease the pH of our mouth making it more acidic and our tooth enamel begin to lose minerals. Once the meal is finished, our saliva is designed to reestablish the pH balance and assists in pushing minerals back into the teeth.

If we consume foods or drinks that are acidic in nature at too high a frequency, then our saliva doesn’t get the opportunity to re-establish the balance of minerals and it may result in tooth erosion or tooth wear.

Which drinks should you watch out for?

  • Soda drinks – these are the big No No’s in terms of acid damage to your teeth and are probably the number one culprit for dental erosion today.
  • Fruit juices – often touted as the healthy option, fruit juices such as orange, apple and cranberry juice are very high on the acidity scale. You should aim to limit your consumption of fruit juices and opt predominantly for eating fresh, whole fruit.
  • Hot lemon water – a common craze to improve digestion. Hot lemon water in the morning can cause damage to your teeth. People with dental erosion, conditions like GERD, should limit their consumption of hot lemon water. For those that are having a dose in the morning, in order to reduce the acidic load, make sure to have a large glass to dilute the lemon juice and prevent acid wear
  • Sports and energy drinks - sports people have been noted to have particular problems with dental erosion which can be exacerbated by the combination of dehydration during exercise and rehydrating with acidic sports drinks such as Powerade and Gatorade.
  • Sparkling Mineral Water – Ok here’s the surprising one. While bottled water or tap water generally has a pH of 6.9 to 7.5. When you add the bubbles to mineral water, the pH drops to between 4.9 and 5.5 making it slightly more acidic than beer and wine.

Studies have shown that sparkling mineral water has a greater potential to dissolve tooth enamel than plain, still water.

Whilst the acidity of mineral waters are higher, the mineral composition seems to have somewhat of a protective effect for tooth erosion. Compared to soft drinks, mineral waters were much less erosive.

Natural is best

While we’re mostly aware of the dangers of soda and sports drinks, there are many bottled drinks available that will decrease the pH of your mouth and potentially cause tooth erosion.

Next time you’re at a restaurant you may want to think about ordering plain water over sparkly bottled water to decrease the acid load on your mouth. Don’t forget to keep up with your regular checkups by your dentist to ensure you’re not at risk of acid damage.

Resources

Sirimaharaj, V., L. Brearley Messer, and M. V. Morgan. "Acidic diet and dental erosion among athletes." Australian dental journal 47.3 (2002): 228-236.

Kulthanan, Kanokvalai, Piyavadee Nuchkull, and Supenya Varothai. "The pH of water from various sources: an overview for recommendation for patients with atopic dermatitis." Asia Pacific Allergy 3.3 (2013): 155.

Parry, J., et al. "Investigation of mineral waters and soft drinks in relation to dental erosion." Journal of oral rehabilitation 28.8 (2001): 766-772.

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