Is Sparkling & Carbonated Water Bad for Teeth

sparkling water in glass with ice and lemon

Are you looking for a healthier, sugar-free alternative to soda? Have you gotten hooked on the sparkling water craze that seems to be taking over the beverage aisle at the supermarket? Understanding how seltzer water affects your smile is extremely important. Any liquid you put in your mouth is going to coat all of the surfaces of your teeth, so what you choose to drink always runs the risk of being a huge factor when it comes to tooth decay.

Is Sparkling Water Bad For Your Teeth?

If you want the short answer, drinking sparkling water is not as bad for your teeth as drinking soda, energy drinks, juice, or other sweetened drinks. But only if it’s free of sugars and artificial sweeteners! Once seltzer water starts adding in other ingredients to sweeten them, you lose the leg up that you get by skipping the soda.

Drinking sparkling water that’s sugar and sweetener-free is fairly safe for your teeth. But just remember that it can be more acidic than regular water. So, if you’re drinking it throughout the day, every single day, you’re still potentially altering the pH levels in your mouth to the point where you could contribute to some enamel erosion.

How Acidic Is Sparkling Water?

Carbonated water does have a lower pH level, so it is slightly more acidic than tap water.[1] But it's not "as bad" as other types of soda or pop, where the pH level is around 2.4. The pH of a Seltzer water may average anywhere from 3 to 4.5 or higher on the pH scale, depending on which brand you get. To give you perspective, the typical pH level inside of our mouths is between 6-7 and tap water is usually 6.5-8. Drinking water is always best for your mouth, but seltzer water is definitely not as bad for your teeth as regular soda.

Does Carbonated Water Weaken Tooth Enamel?

Does sparkling water weaken tooth enamel? If you’re switching from sugary drinks to seltzer water, that’s definitely a positive step. You’re basically swapping out soda or juice for something with no sugar and no artificial sweeteners. But the claim that fizzy carbonated water erodes your tooth enamel is all about how often you're drinking it on a regular basis.

Carbonated water’s slightly lower pH level means that it erodes tooth enamel less than other acidic drinks like soda and fruit juice. However, if you're drinking seltzer water regularly —like several times a week— you could actually be doing damage to your teeth because of the carbonic acid in sparkling water.

If you’re consistently lowering the pH level in your mouth by drinking a lot of seltzer water instead of plain water, you might find yourself gradually eroding your tooth enamel.[2] Enamel is the hardest substance in the entire human body. But if you expose it to acidic liquids all day every day, it will still erode eventually. That’s one reason why people with chronic heartburn tend to have tooth erosion!

Dos and Don’ts of Drinking Sparkling Water

According to the American Dental Association[3], the effects of sparkling water and plain water are about the same on your teeth. Even though seltzer water is more acidic, it’s relatively safe for your mouth. Still, there are some dental health dos and don’ts that you’ll need to keep in mind regardless.

The DO's

Do Drink Seltzer Water With Food

Food helps neutralize acids from your drinks or other desserts. Instead of spreading out your snacking or sipping on a seltzer water throughout the afternoon, treat yourself to it during your meal. That way any acidic side-effects will be minimized.

Do Drink Tap Afterward (Or Rinse Your Mouth)

Hands down, there’s nothing as good for your teeth as drinking plain tap water. Especially if it’s fluoridated by your municipal source. When possible, always try to drink tap water immediately after your sparkling water. Or at the very least, excuse yourself and go rinse your mouth out well at a sink somewhere.

Do Supplement With A Fluoride Rinse At Night

Help counteract the effects of enamel erosion by brushing, flossing, and then rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash right before you go to bed. Nighttime is best since the minerals can coat your teeth for a few hours, strengthening your enamel without getting wiped off.

Do Let Your Dentist Know If You’re Experiencing Dental Symptoms

Schedule an appointment and be sure to talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about how frequently you’re drinking carbonated water and if you have any tooth sensitivity.

The DON'Ts

Don't Drink Sparkling Water With Sugar Or Artificial Sweeteners

If you’re buying sparkling water that has any type of sugar or artificial sweetener (even if it says “sugar-free” on the package) then stop. Sweeteners physically trigger tooth decay across your teeth. Especially when they come in liquid form like sodas, juice, citric acid, flavored coffees, and yes, seltzer water.

Don't Grab Alcohol Seltzer Instead

Just because it’s a hard seltzer doesn’t mean it’s “good” for you. Sipping on alcoholic beverages still leads to the same side effects as other adult beverages. Including dry mouth, acid erosion, tooth sensitivity, and decay.

Don't Swish The Liquid Around Your Teeth

I don’t know why people do it, but sometimes people swish drinks around their mouth. It’s usually something out of habit and they may not even realize they’re doing it. If you’re swishing a seltzer water around your teeth, you’re exposing additional surfaces to lower pH levels, potentially damaging your teeth more quickly than just drinking the sparkling water outright.

Don't Drink It If Your Teeth Feel Sensitive

Tooth sensitivity—especially to acidic liquids—could mean you have weak or eroded tooth enamel. It’s best to not keep exposing your mouth to lower pH levels on purpose. If you feel any sweet sensitivity, remember it could be a red flag for tooth decay.

Is La Croix Bad For Teeth? 

All you want to know is, is carbonated water bad for your teeth? Can you keep drinking your La Croix?

We do know that sparkling water beverages like La Croix aren’t as bad for your teeth as regular soda. But they can still cause acid erosion or low pH levels where cavities can potentially form. The good news is that you can get sparkling water without the sugars in them, making them safer to sip on when you’re looking to indulge.

With La Croix, you still have to read the labels. Are there any artificial sweeteners? According to the manufacturer, no. La Croix doesn’t have any sugars, sweeteners, or other artificial ingredients in its waters.

But…and there’s always a but, isn’t there…you have to weigh the benefits of being sugar-free with the pH levels. It’s theoretically fine to drink it, but you wouldn’t want to coat your teeth in it all day long.

Think of it as a beverage that you enjoy just like flavored coffee or tea. You don’t want to have too much of it every day, but every now and then it’s fine.

Preventing Tooth Decay if You Drink Seltzer Water

When it comes to dental health and avoiding cavities, it’s all about keeping your teeth healthy and strong as possible. Maintaining a healthy diet and using the right home care techniques can help keep cavities from forming even if you do end up drinking sparkling water every now and then.

What’s the best way to prevent tooth decay? The simplest answer is getting back to the basics:

So, Is carbonated water bad for your teeth? 

The verdict? Though sparkling waters are much better for your teeth than their carbonated soda counterparts, the best way to prevent cavities is to drink them in moderation. The more you drink any acidic liquid or sugary drinks, the higher the risk of decay becomes. Make sure you choose a sugar-free seltzer water so that you’re not adding in any sweeteners, which could eat away at your tooth enamel.

So, is sparkling water bad? Not in the way we normally think about it. If you feel the need to indulge in a soda with that burger or piece of pizza, then going with something like a La Croix or other seltzer water is a smart choice. Just remember to respect the pH levels and not drink them all day long!