Seltzer, which is basically fizzy carbonated water, is a refreshing alternative to plain water. I was so in love with it that I used to drink about 4 bottles a day. But I had to reduce it to 1 bottle per week very soon.
Wondering why? Two months after I started drinking seltzer, my teeth started hurting badly while drinking something hot or cold. A classic symptom of tooth sensitivity!
I’ve never really had any major dental issues. I also avoid sugary food and sodas. So why were my teeth hurting so bad?
I was already aware of the controversy surrounding seltzer but never cared about it before. Now that my teeth were hurting, I began doing my research. Apparently, my tooth enamel was weakening due to the huge amount of seltzer I was drinking every day.
I wasn’t so sure how it could possibly happen. I mean this water only has bubbles. There’s no sugar or any other flavoring substance in it. So how exactly is seltzer bad for our teeth?
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The Truth behind Seltzer and Its Effect on Teeth
I read the comment of Dr. Gene Romo, a Chicago dentist and consumer adviser for the American Dental Association on this topic. According to him, the problem lies in the fizz.
Seltzer gets its fizz or bubbles from carbon dioxide. In our mouth, the chemical reaction between our saliva and CO2 produces carbonic acid. While drinking one or two glasses in a week won’t do any harm, regular consumption can make our saliva highly acidic.
High level of mouth acidity is dangerous for our teeth enamel. It can potentially cause enamel erosion, making our teeth prone to cavity and premature teeth loss.
Enamel is the protective shield on our teeth. Once it’s damaged, harmful bacteria, germs and tooth staining substances can easily attack our teeth. Result? Problems like cavity, yellow teeth, and tooth pain.
The exposed dentin is extremely temperature sensitive. So now I understand why I feel immense pain in my teeth when I drink any hot or cold beverage.
Understanding the Safe pH Level of Seltzer Water
If you are really serious about your oral health, you should avoid any kind of carbonated drink altogether. But that’s not always possible, right?
Then what’s the solution? Learning about the safe pH level of carbonated water.
According to a journal published by the American Dental Association, sugary sodas such as cola, lemon soda or orange soda has a pH under 3.0. These drinks are labeled as extremely erosive. Compared to this, most seltzer brands have a pH level above 4.0. While it’s not as acidic as sweetened carbonated beverages, it’s still quite erosive in nature.
On the pH scale, a pH of 7 is considered neutral. Anything above 7 is considered alkaline. To keep our teeth and gums healthy, the pH of our saliva should lie between 5.6-7.9. High alkaline level prevents the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth. I hope now you understand why seltzer, despite being less acidic than artificially sweetened soda, is still quite harmful.
I don’t mean to scare you. There’s no harm in enjoying seltzer, club soda or sparkling water once in a while. In fact, there are many top brands that manufacture low acidic seltzer. You can test the pH level of water with pH test strips before drinking.
Seltzer is not essentially a harmful drink for our teeth. It causes problems only when you regularly over consume it. It completely disrupts the pH balance in your mouth. And that’s how you face all the unwanted teeth pain, sensitivity, and discoloration.
You can enjoy seltzer or any other beverage if you drink in moderation. Let me give you a few other tips that’ll help you enjoy a glass of seltzer without facing its side effects:
How to Enjoy Seltzer without Harming Our Teeth?
Drinking seltzer is far better than having sugary sodas. This carbonated water has a tiny amount of mineral content which is good for our health. If you are worried about its side effects on teeth, follow the advices below to avoid them:
Don’t Sip and Swish
Finish your glass of seltzer as quickly as possible. Don’t sip slowly and swish it in your mouth. If possible, use a straw. That way, your teeth won’t come directly in contact with the high acidic content of carbonated water.
According to a study published by Ada McVean of McGill University, the acidity level of carbonated water reduced significantly when it was kept in room temperature. He observed that the water was more acidic when served icy cold. My point is, if you really want to avoid the side effects, drink seltzer in room temperature or just slightly chilled.
No Lime or Lemon
While lemon or lime juice is acidic in nature, they transform into alkaline when they reach our stomach. But it is still harmful to our teeth. Don’t make seltzer more acidic by adding any citric fruit extract such as lemon or lime juice in it.
Avoid Flavored Seltzer
Flavored seltzer water tastes awesome. But it could be more harmful to our teeth than regular seltzer. Instead of plain sugar, most brands use stevia to sweeten the water. While it is less harmful than sugar, it is not scientifically proven to be tooth-friendly either.
No popular beverage is harmful as long as you don’t drink too much.I have never heard of anyone who lost his teeth because of drinking a few unflavored carbonated water. Moderate drinking won’t simply do any harm. So go and quench your thirst with a glass of seltzer. But just one glass okay? Not one gallon!