As a cosmetic dentist in Tigard, our staff at Tigard Family Dental frequently receives questions from patients regarding the best practices for their oral health. In addition to brushing and flossing daily, one of the best practices for maintaining and improving the health of your teeth is eating a balanced diet, which includes reducing the amount of sugar consumed daily.
Sugary beverages have been linked to depression, diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and more; even diet beverages have been shown to have harmful effects. Drinking sweetened beverages is associated with a change of visceral adipose tissue and has been connected to the development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in studies. Beverages artificially sweetened with the use of either high fructose corn syrup or sucrose are the largest contributor of added sugar intake in the U.S. The frequent consumption of sugary beverages has been linked to type 2 diabetes independently of obesity, and zero calorie artificially sweetened beverages and fruit juices did not seem to be any healthier. An analysis of existing data found that consuming sweetened beverages, whether the sweetener was natural or artificial, seems to increase an individual’s risk of diabetes.
Even drinking diet beverages appears to have some inherent disadvantages. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa found that consuming two or more diet drinks a day may increase an individual’s risk of stroke and heart attack in otherwise healthy postmenopausal women. Researchers determined that, when compared to women who rarely or never consumed diet beverages, those who drank two or more a day had a 30 percent higher likelihood of suffering a cardiovascular event and 50 percent more likely to die from a related disease.
Finding a Healthier Alternative
So if diet, fruit juice, and regular sweetened beverages all present long-term health consequences, where does that leave the consumer who wants to drink something other than tap water? Well, sparkling water seems like a good alternative.
Perrier, Pellegrino, and ICE are just a few of the more popular sparkling beverages currently available on the market. Unfortunately, sparkling water contains carbonic acid, which provides the beverage with its bubbles. The acidity found in sparkling water can slowly weaken and destroy tooth enamel. Fortunately, carbonic acid is fairly weak when compared to most other forms. Non-sparkling bottled water has a neutral pH level of roughly 7, compared to Perrier, for example, that carries a pH of roughly 5.5. Slightly more acidic, but nothing your teeth cannot handle.
When artificial flavors are added to sparkling water, however, they may contain citric or other types of acids, which makes the beverage more acidic and potentially more dangerous to your oral health.
One study that placed human teeth in flavored sparkling water for half an hour found that the damage caused by the water on the teeth was roughly equivalent to that of orange juice. Based on these findings, researchers determined that labeling flavored sparkling water as a healthy dental alternative to other acidic beverages was incorrect.
Despite the limitations, sparkling water still represents a significantly safer alternative to diet and regular soda. The American Heart Association recommends consuming a maximum of 100 calories a day of added sugar, such as what’s found in sweetened beverages, for women, and no more than 150 calories for men each day. Consuming just one 12-ounce can of soda would mean ingesting 1.5 times that amount. Considering the excessive amount of sugar, it makes the most sense to your cosmetic dentist in Tigard to just stick to water, whether sparkling or plain.