How sparkling water is wrecking your teeth

By Anna Hodgekiss

Adam Stone, a dentist in London's Harley Street, warns that most people have no idea that fizzy water is extremely acidic. Photo/123RF
Adam Stone, a dentist in London's Harley Street, warns that most people have no idea that fizzy water is extremely acidic. Photo/123RF

It's considered the virtuous option compared to other fizzy drinks and often more refreshing than bog standard still water.

But sparkling water is not as harmless as most of us think - and is actually more acidic than wine and vinegar, a dentist has warned, according to Daily Mail.

"Most people have no idea that fizzy water is extremely acidic, it's pH3 on the acidity scale" says Adam Stone, a dentist in London's Harley Street.

"The bubbles erode your tooth enamel - and over time this causes painful, yellow cracked teeth."

With pH7 being neutral, the figures make alarming reading:

* Carbonated drinks (e.g. sparkling water or diet cola) pH 3.0

* Juices & smoothies (e.g. apple juice) pH 3.4

* Wine pH 3.6

* Salad dressing (e.g. vinegar) pH 3.6

Indeed, Stone, from the Harley Street Dental Studio, claims he has seen a three-fold rise in people suffering from acid damage in the last 10 years.

"There are various causes: some people grind their teeth together, often due to stressful jobs. This wears away the enamel, exposing the underneath layer and causing pain."

But the main culprit is our culture of constant sipping and snacking throughout the day, he says.

"Everywhere you go people are sipping smoothies, coffee, juices and fizzy water.

"These are all highly acidic and attack your teeth. Every time you consume something like this it takes your tooth enamel three hours to recover from it."

When you eat something sticky or sugary, little acid attacks erupt in your mouth that strips your enamel of vital minerals. After the attacks, saliva swishes around your mouth, cleaning off debris and redepositing those lost minerals.

"But if you're sipping all day, your teeth never get a chance and are under a constant acid attack," says Stone.

"This can cause the protective enamel to erode, causing pain and sensitivity. It can also lead to decay."

"Rather than sipping constantly, drink a glass in one go. Try to use a straw to direct the water down your throat rather than towards your teeth."

What is enamel erosion?

Enamel erosion occurs when acids, including those in a normal healthy diet, attack the outer layer (the enamel) of teeth, making it softer and weaker.

Signs of enamel erosion can be:

1. Cracking: If tooth erosion continues into the advanced stage, the edges of the teeth can start to crack and have a rough feeling.

2. Yellowing: Teeth can become yellower as a consequence of enamel thinning because the underlying dentine becomes more visible.

3. Transparency: In the early stages of tooth erosion teeth can have a sand blasted look - or the tips of the front teeth to look transparent.

4. Sensitivity: As a consequence of the loss of enamel, the underlying dentine can become exposed. This can result in feeling sharp twings, discomfort or pain.

What causes enamel erosion?

* Fizzy water
* Lemon juice (almost as acidic as battery acid)
* Vinegary salad dressing
* Juices and smoothies
* Chewing ice cubes
* Alcohol
* Snacking between meals - it means your teeth are constantly at risk
* Exercising (exercising causes a dry mouth as moisture is diverted elsewhere in the body, increasing the likelihood of enamel erosion)
* Pregnancy (acid reflux during morning sickness increases the likelihood of enamel erosion)
* Bruxism - teeth grinding can weaken enamel

On the flipside:

A small amount of cheese can be beneficial if eaten after acidic food as it neutralises the acid.

How to prevent it

Give your teeth a 3-4-hour break between meals.

Avoid frequent snacks.

Finish your meal with a crunchy vegetable (carrot, stalk of celery, cauliflower, piece of bell pepper, sweet pepper, leaf of cabbage, a small stick of cut up swede, cucumber) to help clean the teeth and stimulate saliva.

Chew some sugar-free chewing gum for 10 minutes.

When you have finished brushing, spit out excess toothpaste but do not rinse with water! If you rinse with water, you will get rid of the fluoride. If you absolutely want to rinse your teeth after brushing, use a fluoride mouthwash.

There is now also a toothpaste that claims to be the first to regenerate lost tooth enamel.

Called Regenerate, it has been shown in clinical trials to create the identical mineral to tooth enamel - and is said to to bond directly onto the tooth in the minute or so that someone is brushing their teeth.

Fred Schafer was one of the scientists at Unilever involved in developing the product before his retirement.

Speaking to the Hippocratic Post, he said: "This should help to revolutionise tooth care in much the same way that the introduction of fluoride helped to reduce the number of cavities when it was added to toothpaste and drinking water."

"We also created the Advanced Enamel Serum which you put straight onto your teeth which does the same job as toothpaste but in a much shorter time - usually in about three days."

- Daily Mail

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