The Question: It is healthy to drink carbonated drinks like seltzer regularly?
The Answer: Be strategic with your La Croix obsession.
Manufacturers add pressurized carbon dioxide to produce effervescence in a drink, which is essentially the process that makes those beloved seltzers bubbly and fizzy. This act of carbonation instantly makes the drink acidic ― and that acid can cause the tooth’s enamel to erode over time, according to Mark Wolff, professor and chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at New York University’s College of Dentistry.
Any and all acid in a drink can do this, whether it comes from seltzer, flavored sparkling water, diet or regular soda. Fruit juices, wine and coffee are all acidic, too, Wolff said.
Here’s the good news: Seltzer and flavored sparkling waters are better choices than fruit juice and soda. They are less acidic than other carbonated beverages and don’t contain added sugar. And, as you probably know by now, added sugar in beverages is not good for you when consumed consistently.
While acid softens tooth enamel, the occasional consumption of acidic beverages is no big deal, Wolff said. Within a half hour after drinking, the mouth begins to heal itself as saliva actually hardens enamel back up, Wolff explained.
But getting into the habit of nursing a carbonated drink could create a problem.
“It’s only a big deal if [the carbonated beverage] sits and roasts on the teeth hour after hour after hour,” Wolff told HuffPost. “If I leave a bottle of seltzer next to me and I drink it for the next two hours, I’ve actually bathed my teeth in acid for two solid hours.”
Wolff suggests to drink seltzer and sparkling waters in five to 10 minute bursts. This way, saliva can harden the tooth enamel again, a process that is disrupted if you’re consuming the beverage over a drawn-out period of time. Drinking through a straw can help as well, Wolff said.
Additionally, do not brush your teeth immediately after finishing an acidic drink. Brushing can further wear down already softened tooth enamel, according to The Mayo Clinic.
So, seltzer and flavored sparkling sodas can be a better pick than other products as long as you’re careful. But it is just as good as drinking water? Nope. (But you probably already knew that.)
“It’s very clear that water has the distinct advantage that it rinses the mouth, does not add calories, does not add acid to the system and keeps us hydrated,” Wolff said.
However, we know plain water can get boring sometimes. Try infusing fruit or herbs into your H2O to mix it up. For example, this strawberry, lime, cucumber and mint water is a game changer.
And then have the bubbly good stuff here and there, rather than all the time. Your body will appreciate it.