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Serving Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada since 1999.

As the new year begins many of us are trying to choose healthier options. This includes attempting to make smarter choices in our choice of drink. A choice for many is to forego sugary sodas and choose carbonated water. The thought is we will choose a lower calorie drink that is also less harmful to our oral health. But is sparkling water safer for our teeth and gums?

What Is Sparkling Water?

Sparkling water is made by dissolving carbon dioxide in water, creating carbonic acid. This  chemical process just adds bubbles. It does not add sugar, calories, or even caffeine. Tonic water, club soda, and mineral water are all types of readily available carbonated water, but these have added sodium, vitamins, or sweeteners, so it’s important to read the label.

Is Sparkling Water Harmful To Our Teeth?

Yes, sparkling water can harm your teeth. While sparkling water is only slightly more acidic than regular tap water it has the power to do damage to our teeth’s enamel through a process called tooth erosion (wearing away of the outer layer of our teeth due to acids). Some of the causes of tooth enamel erosion include:

-Consuming excessive amounts of sodas (high levels of phosphoric and citric acids)

-Fruit drinks (some acids in fruit drinks are more erosive than battery acid)

-Dry mouth or low salivary flow (xerostomia)

-Diet (high in sugar and starches)

-Acid reflux disease (also called GERD)

-Gastrointestinal problems

-Medications (for example aspirin and antihistamines)

-Genetics

-Environmental factors (friction, wear and tear, and stress)

Research has shown that sparkling water has a pH (measure of aciditiy) of approximately 3 (with 5 being neutral). The researchers used extracted teeth and placed them in glasses filled with various types of sparkling waters. What they found was quite surprising. Sparkling water does in fact have the acidity to erode tooth enamel. In fact, the researchers found that the sparkling water compared to orange juice in terms of its erosive effect.

Sparkling Water Conclusion

While the research showed that the sparkling waters can erode tooth enamel, it is important to note that if used in moderation it is a perfectly healthy alternative to sodas and energy drinks. Remember to practice good oral hygiene after using these drinks and you should have little to worry about in terms of your dental health.

Tooth decay is an age old problem that has affected generations of children and adults. Tooth decay is preventable, we just need to understand what causes it so that we may then prevent it from occurring.

Tooth decay is caused by a bacterial intrusion into the tooth. The bacteria feed on the buildup of food debris on teeth. The bacteria then secrete acids which breakdown tooth enamel. Once the acid forms a hole in the enamel, the bacteria can then enter the tooth and progressively breakdown the tooth, causing a cavity.  Understanding this process is critical to maintaining oral health and preventing tooth decay.

Best Tips To Prevent Tooth Decay

-Maintain Proper Dental Hygiene. This is the first step to preventing tooth decay. Proper dental hygiene should include, brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash. Toothbrushing should be done at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time. Brushing more often during the day will enhance your dental hygiene. Flossing should be done at least once a day (preferably before bedtime) but it can also be done more often.  The goal in dental hygiene is to not only keep down the amount of debris in the mouth but also to keep the environment from becoming acidic which will allow bacteria to more agressively break down teeth causing tooth decay.

Use of an antibacterial/fluoride mouthwash (such as purple listerine)is often overlooked but is also important. These oral rinses are designed to decrease cavity causing bacteria in the mouth while utilizing fluoride to strengthen enamel against breakdown. If brushing and flossing is done properly, use of an oral rinse should complete the protection against tooth decay.

-Sugarless Gum. Sugarless gum is important because it stimulates salivary flow. The increased saliva in the mouth will help to keep our teeth clean. Saliva is the mouth’s natural defense against oral bacteria. Choose a sugarless gum with xylitol. Bacteria can not feed on xylitol, because it cannot be metabolized. This helps keep the acid levels lower. Xylitol has also been shown to help remineralize our teeth’s enamel.

-Maintaining Proper Nutrition. Choosing foods and drinks wisely is important to your overall health as well as your dental health. By eating properly, you are able to keep your body as healthy as possible allowing your body to fight off any attack. The best snacks for your dental health include raw vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Avoiding sugar is not always an option so it is important to minimize the damage. Apples are actually the perfect snack for dental health as they act as a tooth cleaner and whitener. They are able to clean your teeth by the abrasive action of the skin and hard inner surface of the apple, malic acid in the apple helps to remove surface stain and keep teeth whiter. You can actually squueze juice from an apple and mix it with baking soda to brush on and whiten your teeth. So next time you are looking for a midday snack pick up a shiny apple.

-Drink Fluoridated Water. While fluoride is a controversial topic for many. It has been proven time and again to protect our teeth from tooth decay. Fluoridated water is important for children to drink. The fluoride becomes a permanent part of the tooth when it is consumed during tooth development.  Drinking at least 16oz of fluoridated water each day will help prevent tooth decay. Another option is to use a supplemental fluoride prescribed by your dentist.

-Dental Sealants. Many believe dental sealants are just for children but that is not so. If an adult has no tooth decay on the tooth in question nor any previous dental restorations a sealant can be placed and be effective. A dental sealant is designed to cover the chewing surfaces of premolars and molars. This keeps the grooves of our teeth from developing tooth decay. In many of us, these grooves are quite deep and are an inherent weakness in the fight against tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

Tooth decay is preventable with diligent dental hygiene and maintaining regularly scheduled dental visits. Maybe in the future, we can eventually wipe out tooth decay . Until then, we need to follow the steps above to maintain good oral health.