Are Flavored Sparkling Beverages Safe for Your Teeth?
It’s no secret that soda pop is bad for you: the sugar isn’t good for our teeth, our waistlines, or our health. So many folks replaced soda with sugar-free flavored sparkling beverages to get the same excitement on the tongue without all the sugar. It seems harmless enough – it’s just carbonated water with some flavor, right? Well, if drinking flavored sparkling beverages has become your daily habit, there are some things you need to know. Depending on what type you’re drinking and even how you’re drinking it, flavored sparkling beverages can harm your teeth over time.
That fun fizz comes from infusing the drink with carbon dioxide, which makes carbonic acid. As acids go, this one is relatively mild, so drinking unflavored sparkling water like plain mineral water really isn’t an issue. But the added flavorings – especially those that rely on citric or other acids to enhance their taste like lemon, lime and grapefruit – raise the pH value to a point of concern. Research further shows that the pH levels in your mouth become more acidic the longer the drink stays in your mouth. This means that if you’re sipping on flavored sparkling beverages throughout the day, you’re slowly washing your teeth in these acids. Over time, this could lead to corrosion of your teeth enamel.
You may know that tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be eroded. When acids damage the enamel, it can lead to:
- tooth discoloration resulting in a yellow tint or shiny spots on the teeth,
- rough edges that can eventually lead to chips and fractures,
- sensitivity to hot and cold foods, or even tooth brushing,
- and increased risk for cavities.
The best source to keep yourself hydrated is plain, still water. But if you aren’t ready to give up flavored sparkling beverages there are a few strategies that will help:
- Flavor unflavored sparkling beverages yourself with non-citrus foods like fresh mint springs or cucumber.
- Drink flavored sparkling beverages only with a meal: your saliva helps to neutralize the acid and eating increases the saliva in your mouth.
- Drink through a straw: this directs the beverage past your teeth to the back of your mouth so your teeth aren’t as subjected to the acids.
- Drink it all at one time and then swish with some plain water afterward to rinse the damaging trace acids away.
It’s critical to your health to get enough liquids every day, so be sure to drink plenty of water. But if you want your teeth to sparkle, minimize the flavored sparkling beverages