Ya boy, LaCroix
As the weeks pass in 2017, it seems that our world becomes more chaotic and troubled. While older generations may have relied on the sugary or political escape of a Pepsi or another peaceful soda beverage, younger people seem to have floated in another direction with carbonated water.
In fact, soda consumption has dropped to 1986 rates and sales of carbonated water have doubled over the last five years. While carbonated water is much better for you than sodas or other sugary drinks, are all of those bubbles good for your teeth? The horror stories of soda rotting teeth have been around long before millennials owned cell phones, but now this formerly European fancy water has made its way into popular culture and is impacting the teeth of America.
A problem arises with those glorious little bubbles. The fizz that we love comes from carbon dioxide. When CO2 bubbles are pressed into water, some of them dissolve into the water and the two form carbonic acid. While carbonic acid isn’t as bad as the phosphoric acid in soda, it still can lower the pH in your mouth. (Refresher: pH is a scale that shows if a liquid is acidic or #basic. Numbers on the low end are acidic, 7 is neutral, and above 7 is #basic.)
When the pH drops in your pie hole, your tooth enamel wears. Boring tap water has a pH close to 7, but sparkling water has a pH of 5.5 without any flavoring. That’s around the same acidity as black coffee or tea. After adding flavoring, the pH can drop even further if the flavoring contains citric acid. (That's the stuff that makes drinks taste like citrus.) While it isn’t the 2.5 pH of soda, it’s still not great.
Let’s face it though, there is no way that you are giving up your carbonated water habit any time soon, so what can be done to protect your pearly whites from turning siriusly black? First, if you drink the bubbles of heaven while eating food, your food can act as a buffer in your stomach to help mitigate intestinal issues. The carbonation may help you feel full as well. Second, how you drink carbonated water is an important factor in your “will I look like a pirate in 20 years” prediction. The best method is to use a straw or to drink quickly, and, accordingly, the worst method is to let seltzer, or any acidic liquid for that matter, sit in your mouth for a while before you drink it down. Also, don’t completely neglect your friend flat water. While it may be as boring as beige, unseasoned chicken breasts, or looking at Bob’s vacation pictures, it’s still the best liquid to drink. You are more than 50 percent water, after all!