Acid & Sugar - The Deadly Duo in Drinks

A patient recently asked a question that I didn’t have an answer for: Can sparkling water damage teeth?
Here are the facts:
  • The more acidic a drink is (i.e., the lower the pH), the more harm it can do to your teeth.  You can literally erode your teeth away if they are being bathed in these liquids on a regular basis.  Check the pH of any drink by doing a Google search, “what is the pH of …….”  A beverage in the range of 5 or less can cause tooth damage.
  • It stands to reason that drinks with both high sugar and low pH are the most dangerous to your teeth.  Hello Coke, Mountain Dew, Red Bull, Gatorade, to name a few. There are many more drinks that unfortunately fall into this double whammy category.
  • Diet drinks, while zero in sugar content, still contain acid that wears your teeth away.
  • Sparkling water, which is made to fizz by dissolving carbon dioxide in water, (like in Soda Stream), contains a small amount of carbonic acid, but studies show the pH is above 5 and is considered safe for teeth.
  • Some flavored sparkling waters are more acidic because of the flavoring agents that are added.  There is a bit more mystery with these types of drinks, mostly because of the huge variation in pH and therefore their safety with regard to teeth. I could not find the pH of my favorite Crystal Geyser flavored waters anywhere on the web.  I may have Dr. Tom do a pH test in the office with his fish tank chemicals, and I’ll let you know what we find out. ** Update: We tested in the office and the PH was 6 - so okay!
In the meantime, be wise in your drink choices.  My personal opinion is that a soda a day, regular OR diet, is too much.  Try one soda a week instead.  It sounds hard core, but after 30+ years of seeing destruction of perfectly good teeth that can be readily prevented, I’m going with that recommendation.  You’re much safer with sparkling water, flavored or otherwise.