It's a lot more fun than regular water, but is sparkling water bad for your teeth?

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Soda water is like the ultimate cheat beverage.

It has all the fun and fizz of soft drink without the heart-stopping amount of sugar; and feels just a little bit fancier than still water — especially when you drop in a wedge of lime — while still meeting all your vital refreshment and hydration needs.

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So there are a lot of good reasons to reach for the sparkly stuff — but does it get along with your teeth?

According to dentist Dr Alex Huszti, of Belle Dental in Newcastle, says the carbonation process — where carbon dioxide is passed through water either naturally or artificially — does contribute a level of acidity to sparkling water.

Which water will you go for?

"When you pass carbon dioxide through water you get bubbles in it... but you also produce some acids. One of these is carbonic acid, and it's a mild acid, so that affects the pH of the water it ends up being slightly acidic," Dr Huszti explains.

"It's certainly not to the degree that you get with carbonated drinks like Coke, which are much more acidic because of the flavourings and the sugar. Even the ones that are sugar-free are quite acidic... So to some degree, [soda water] is a better choice than Coke."

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Professor David Manton of the University of Melbourne's Melbourne Dental School agrees, saying plain carbonated water is "generally safe for teeth as long as it is drunk in moderation".

Acidity in foods and drinks can weaken the quality of your enamel and deplete it of its mineral content. Ultimately, this could contribute to erosion and the "literal dissolution" of the tooth's surface. Professor Manton says erosion causes a loss of enamel that can't be replaced.  (Post continues after gallery.)

It's important to understand the acidity of foods and beverages, and thus the impact they have on your teeth, can vary quite dramatically. If you think of this in terms of a pH scale, Dr Huszti says water is going to be the best option for your teeth. Carbonated water is roughly as acidic as tea or coffee, while juice, soft drinks, wines and sports drinks are a lot more acidic due to their additives and preservatives.

Having said that, if your sparkling water contains flavouring — even a so-called "natural" version — this will automatically increase its acidity and the effect it could have on your teeth.


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Dr Huszti explains many flavourings double as preservatives to extend the shelf life of the product, and in some cases they contain buffered acids which maintain the acid levels of the beverage by "feeding in more acid". As for those slices of lemon and lime you like to toss into your sparkling water for some extra zing... well, being citrus fruits, they're also quite high in citric acid.

To offset any negative effects of acidity on the teeth, it's wise to drink through a straw — positioning it on the middle of the tongue so it doesn't come into contact with your teeth — and maintain a good tooth-brushing regimen. It can also be helpful to rinse the mouth with regular water after consuming the fizzy kind, and to save your fizzy waters for meal time. (Post continues after gallery.)

"This decreases the change in decay risk, and as the saliva is flowing due to being stimulated by eating, the erosion risk should also decrease," Professor Manton says.

Dr Huszti also advises chewing sugar-free gum, particularly varieties containing an artificial sweetener called xylitol — "it's got a specific effect on the bacteria that produce acids and dental decay," he says.

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Gum also stimulates the production of saliva, which serves as a natural buffer for your teeth and clears your mouth of any debris. Professor Manton says if someone experiences low saliva flow, which is often caused by medications, their risk of both decay and erosion "increases markedly".

Interestingly, Dr Huszti says shift workers, or people who stay up through the night, are also susceptible to the effects of acidity. This is because the body naturally winds down its production of saliva at around 10pm, as it assumes the body is heading to sleep.

So if you keep a glass of water by your bed at night, maybe stick to the still variety just in case.

Do you drink carbonated water? Were you aware it could potentially affect your teeth?