Is Carbonated Water Bad for Your Teeth?

Will the Fizzy Water ‘Bubble’ Ever Pop?

Close up image of a lemon slice suspended in a glass of sparkling water

What’s the Deal with Carbonated Water?

The beverage aisle at your local grocery store looks different today than it did five years ago. Remember when there were just rows of soda, a few jugs of juice and stacks of boring bottled water wrapped in plastic? Those days are gone. Now we see bright cans of carbonated water in tropical flavors, like peach, tangerine, raspberry, key lime and coconut. And they contain a magical ingredient….bubbles! But what’s the deal with seltzers and sparkling water? Why are people tossing regular water for a fizzy taste of the tropics?

Why is Sparkling Water So Popular?

For starters, people know that a low-sugar diet means a healthier lifestyle. They’re ditching sugary sports drinks and soda for better substitutes. This is where seltzer comes in. Sparkling water, or carbonated water infused with gas, has a fizzy taste. This flavor-packed water often contains little or no sugar. That’s a nice choice for soda fans who like bubbles but want to avoid sugar.  

And that demand bubble hasn’t popped. According to a recent Bevnet article, sparkling flavored water reported over $2 billion in annual retail dollar sales in 2019.

Is It Really Just Water?

That depends. True seltzer water is flat water with carbon dioxide and no added ingredients or flavors. Club soda, used in cocktails, contains chemical compounds like baking soda and potassium sulfate. And tonic water is sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. So, some of these carbonated drinks do contain artificial sweeteners and flavors. You can spot-check the nutrition label by looking for the words “carbonated water” and “natural flavor” to make sure you’re buying a water without added sugars and ingredients.

Is It Bad for My Teeth?

As an alternate to sweet, high-calorie drinks, carbonated water is not bad for you. It’s as hydrating as regular water. But it is acidic, and acids can damage tooth enamel. That’s why researchers are studying how seltzer and sparkling waters affect dental health. The jury is still out, but early research suggests that sparkling water damages enamel only a bit more than still water. Other studies show that non-carbonated sugary drinks are more harmful than sugar-free carbonated drinks. This means that carbonated water with sugar can erode tooth enamel, but plain carbonated water is harmless.

Swapping out soda for carbonated water reduces your sugar intake. But sugar is sneaky. Make sure you pick sparkling water brands flavored naturally with low or no sugar on the nutrition label to limit your sugar intake.

How Can I Use Carbonated Water?

Here are some ways to use this low-sugar alternative in some of your favorite recipes:

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