Regularly drinking soft drinks and other sugary drinks can
lead to cavities and gum disease. But is fizzy water any better?
We’re told to brush twice a day, floss, avoid sugar and
visit your dentist regularly. “Taking care of your teeth will ward off cavities
and gum disease.”
And with an estimated 2.3 billion people in the world
suffering from tooth decay, it’s a message we need to listen to.
Sugary, fizzy drinks, such as soft drinks and sports drinks
are double trouble for our teeth. First, they contain sugar. Bacteria that live
in your mouth feed on sugar and form acid which attacks the surface of your
teeth. Over time, this can result in cavities.
Then there’s the acid content of soft drinks. Even if a
fizzy drink doesn’t contain sugar, it often contains phosphoric or citric acid.
This lowers the pH of the drink (making it more acidic) which can soften your
tooth enamel, leading to damage.
What about my home-made soda water?
Soda water is a better option than most soft drinks as it
contains no sugar. However, we should not drink it every day.
Soda water is also known as carbonated water. It is created
by dissolving carbon dioxide gas in water – this creates an acid known as
carbonic acid. The carbonic acid causes the pH of the soda water to be lower
than plain water, but it is not as low as fizzy soft drinks.
The American Dental Association agrees, saying that even
though the acidity occurring in sparkling water is far less than what you’d
find in a citrus juice or many soft and sports drinks, they advise keeping any
acidic drinks to mealtimes only.
Trust the tap
It’s boring, but your best options are tap water or milk.
Most of us have access to fluoridated drinking water, which helps to protect and
strengthen teeth. If your local tap water is unsuitable for drinking, bottled
plain water is also a good option.
If you do drink fizzy drinks, or other acidic drinks such as
hot water and lemon, kombucha or apple cider vinegar drinks, follow these with
a glass of clear tap water or plain bottled water and avoid brushing your teeth
for at least 30 minutes. Any form of acid will soften your tooth enamel and if
you brush too soon you risk adding to the erosion.