It’s no secret that sugary soda drinks are bad for your teeth, but a new investigation by The Atlantic found that sugarless seltzer water might be just as bad.
As Live Science stated, most of us already know that soda pop is filled with sugar, and this sugar essentially eats away at the hard enamel that covers and protects teeth. Even diet sodas have chemicals via sugar substitutes that have a similar effect, being “nearly as corrosive to dental enamel as battery acid.”
Continued exposure to sugar-filled drinks can lead to a variety of dental woes. As the enamel wears away, teeth are more susceptible to discoloration and decay.
As a result, many soda alternatives have been developed and marketed quite successfully. Juices seem to be making a comeback, manifested in trendy “juice bars,” and Live Science notes that fruit juices typically have about 10 times less sugar than the average soda. Non-carbonated sports drinks were big for a while until people discovered that they can contain just as much sugar as a can of soda. Fruit-flavored water has hit the scene in a big way, and carbonated seltzer water has gained a rather large following as well.
Over the past five years, seltzer water sales have more than doubled. Ironically, in the past five years, the number of teeth whitening procedures has tripled. Americans are spending more on cosmetic dental procedures than ever before to repair damaged teeth.
So what’s the deal?
As Mic reported, carbonated water contains something called “carbonic acid.” Without this acid, the water wouldn’t be all bubbly and fun. Even without any sugar, carbonated drinks necessarily contain this acid; drinks that are flavored (without sugar) also contain citric acid.
Carbonic acid isn’t nearly as dangerous to tooth enamel as sugar-filled sodas, but it’s still an acid. On the pH scale ranging from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic), water measures in at a neutral 7. Unflavored seltzer water is a bit more acidic, measuring 5.46, and a Coke measures 2.525.
So what’s the important takeaway here? Well, seltzer water is still clearly much better than soda is, and if your vice happens to be a daily can of lemon-flavored Perrier, there are worse things you could do. But if you’re torn between a bottle of flat water and some fun sparkling water, that plain water should come out on top.