Sipping Seltzer? Stop and Read This First

Have you jumped on the LaCroix bandwagon? If so, you’re not alone. In just a few short years, the sparkling water drink has gone from a no-name beverage to cult status, and sales are booming. As more and more Americans shift their diet away from sugar, soda sales have dropped and LaCroix started showing up everywhere. In fact, sales of the carbonated drink went from $65 million in 2010 to $226 million in 2015, and they keep heading upwards. LaCroix is now the No. 1 brand of flavored bottled water in the United States.

This is great news considering the established connection between soda and obesity, but what about your oral health? A recent Huffington Post article addressed the concern dentists have about carbonated water and your teeth.

The problem with seltzer, explained dentist Michael Krochak, DMD of NYC Smile Spa, has to do with its pH. Non-carbonated water has a neutral pH of 7, but when it’s carbonated to make seltzer, carbonic acid forms, bringing the pH down to an acidic 4 or 3. When fruit flavor is added, the problem gets worse. Citric acid in flavored water pushes the pH to between 3.5 and 2.5, Krochak said. An acidic environment in your mouth will lead to tooth enamel erosion, which can lead to tooth sensitivity, chips, cavities, and decay.

But don’t throw away your LaCroix yet. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to protect your enamel without giving up bubbly water. Here are three tips that allow you to keep sipping the fizzy stuff:

  • Don’t drink it every day. Problems typically arise when drinking seltzer becomes a daily habit. “If it’s more than three times per week, you’re going to start seeing some damage,” said Dr. Krochak.
  • Switch to mineral waters. These are the safest type of seltzer because it’s carbonated naturally at a lower pressure, making its pH between 6.5 and 7. It may be more expensive, but it’s definitely better for your teeth.
  • After you drink, chew xylitol gum. Xylitol is a plant-derived sweetener that actually prevents the natural formation of acids in your mouth. After you drink an acidic beverage like seltzer (or juice or coffee), Dr. Krochak suggests rinsing your mouth out with water before popping in a piece of xylitol gum two minutes.

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