It’s safe to say America is finally beginning to understand the health impact sugary drinks are having on their daily lives. This was made evident when Beverage Marketing Corp. announced that for the first time in history, bottled water sales beat soft drinks sales in 2016.
As people across the nation attempt to find healthy alternatives to their favorite foods and beverages it has become an increasingly difficult path to navigate. Thousands of drinks market themselves as sugar-free or no artificial flavoring, but is that enough to make it a healthier alternative? Spokane-area family dentist, Dr. Ken Collins, DDS, said isn’t.
“The pH level of a beverage is one of the main factors that affects how much it can erode the enamel on teeth,” he said. “Anything with a pH level lower than 4 can be a problem for your teeth.”
One of the most popular alternatives to soft drinks, especially for those who haven’t quite learned to love plain water yet, is flavored waters. But Collins says the citrus flavoring found in many of them can be a problem for your enamel.
Studies have been conducted on some of the big names in the flavored water market. Carbonated or sparkling, water with no flavoring typically falls into pH level around five making it safe for your teeth. Flavored waters, both sparkling and still, range in pH levels from 3 to 4 according to the study.1
In one study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, researchers tested 379 different beverages from stores in Alabama and rated them based on their potential for erosion on teeth based on their pH levels. They found that 93 percent of the drinks they tested had pH levels less than 4.2
Carbonated waters can be even more of a concern because the process of carbonating the water it increases the acidity and lowers the pH levels. This is because carbon dioxide is used to create the fizz found in sparkling water and once consumed it becomes carbonic acid.
“This doesn’t mean flavored waters, carbonated or not, are bad for you, by any means,” said Collins. “Just remember the classic saying ‘all things in moderation. Don’t replace your entire day’s worth of water intake with flavored water as an alternative to soda. Fluoridated water should always be your first choice. But, every once in awhile, when you need a flavor boost, drink one as a sort of treat.”
Experts agree that everyone’s main source of hydration should always be plain and simple water.
“Other ways to enjoy flavored water that minimizes the damage includes drinking it all in one sitting,” said Collins. “Slowly sipping on anything high in sugar or acidity throughout the day increases the length of time it takes your mouth to recover and return to a normal pH balance. The best solution is to drink it during a meal since eating stimulates saliva production, which in turn helps neutralize acids.”
1 Krieger, Ellie. “Flavored waters – yes, including La Croix – are eroding your teeth.” Chicagotribune.com. N.p., 27 Apr. 2017. Web. 10 May 2017.
2 Reddy, Avanija, Don F. Norris, Stephanie S. Momeni, Belinda Waldo, and John D. Rudy. “The pH of beverages in the United States.” Journal of American Dental Association 147.4 (2016): 255-63. Web
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