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Sparkling water, acidity, wine and teeth

Sparkling water, acidity, wine and teeth

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There was a scary story circulating the internets recently: Sparkling water is not good for your teeth! Some variants of the story even compared it to soda! Eeegad–just when you thought you were doing the right thing by completely depriving yourself of any flavor…

Well, as with most scary headlines, there are some caveats. And these also will allay any fears about wine.

Sparkling water is a lower pH than regular water, which, as we all remember from chemistry class, should be 7.0 or neutral. Sparkling water is about 5.5. Why? Well, the bubbles come with carbonic acid, which reduces the pH (below 7.0 is more acidic). Is that catastrophically bad? No. But the author of the scary article admitted to drinking 144 ounces of seltzer water in a day, so, yeah, that perma-bath of acidity all day long could be a little destructive if repeated daily. (Btw, reverse osmosis water reduces the pH in its filtering process so if you carbonate RO water via a system such as Soda Stream, it will have an even lower pH than non-RO water.) Sodas can have a pH of 2.5 and have been shown to be many times more corrosive than sparkling water.

So what about wine? Well, even though wine has a lower pH than neutral water, it is not a beverage that most people drink 144 ounces of. If someone had a particularly good night at a dinner, a half a bottle is only 12 ounces of wine. Combine that with food for a “buffering effect,” and, yeah, not a big deal in the dental department.

But what can be harder is tasting a lot of low pH wines such as Riesling or Champagnes. These high-acid wines can have a pH of 2.8-3.3 range. Tastings of these wines can be harder on the teeth and gums than tastings with tannic red wines, which have their own side effects of teeth discoloration (A smile and “hi honey, I’m home” after one of these tastings is usually met with “red wine this time?”). One dentist suggested to me that brushing after a tasting would be better than before a tasting, which would remove build up that could protect the teeth.

Anyway, wine tasters can get some relief in the fact that toothpaste and a toothbrush is probably all you need at the end of the day to combat even the toughest Riesling tasting regimen.

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