Thursday, July 19, 2018 by Earl Garcia
Flavored sparkling water might be less acidic than sodas and fruit juices, but these drinks might just be as bad for the teeth. According to experts, sales of flavored water showed a significant increase over the years, thanks perhaps to a variety of new flavors — such as strawberry, kiwi, raspberry and watermelon — being introduced in the market. Researchers noted that flavored water is generally less acidic, and that the carbonation process in itself may not trigger enamel erosion. However, experts said the addition of mostly acidic flavors might be the contributing factor why these beverages were deemed potentially hazardous to dental health.
According to health expert Professor Edmond R. Hewlett, these beverages lead to “the incremental dissolving away of the enamel on the teeth, which, over time, can affect their structural integrity, making them hypersensitive to temperature and potentially more cavity-prone.” Hewlett currently serves as the consumer adviser for the American Dental Association and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry.
Professor Hewlett has recommended a few steps to prevent the onset of beverage-induced enamel erosion. According to Hewlett, people should not make flavored water their primary source of hydration. The expert also noted to drink the beverage faster, and to avoid swishing the carbonated water to limit enamel exposure. Hewlett also recommended taking the beverage with a meal or snack to stimulate the flow of acid-neutralizing saliva, which in turn may ensure good dental health.
A beverage’s pH level is an essential factor to determine whether it would be corrosive to the teeth or not. According to experts, any beverage with a pH level lower than four is considered potentially harmful to the teeth. Lower pH levels determine greater acidity and higher likelihood in dental damage. Regular tap water has pH levels between six and eight. The carbonation process lowers pH levels to about five. This would have been safe for consumption, but the addition of flavors not only lowers pH levels but may also remove calcium from the teeth.
Previous studies have shown that drinking flavored water could be detrimental to the teeth. For instance, a study published last year revealed that plain sparkling water had a pH of five. However, un-carbonated flavored waters including grape, lemon or strawberry Dasani had a pH of three. This was only slightly better than RC Cola at 2.32 and Coca-Cola at 2.37 respectively. Study co-author Dr. John Ruby said that carbonation in itself may not cause enamel damage.
Another study found that flavored sparkling water exhibited acidic properties that were potentially hazardous to the teeth. To carry out the study, a team of researchers from the University of Birmingham School of Dentistry and the Birmingham Dental Hospital in the U.K. examined samples of flavored sparkling water and found that the specimens had appreciable titratable acidity of 0.344 to 0.663 mmol, and low pH levels between 2.74 and 3.34. The samples also had erosive potential between 89 percent and 143 percent. The researchers concluded that flavored water should be recognized as potentially erosive, and should be labeled as potentially acidic beverages. The results were published in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry.