Sparkling water, acidity, wine and teeth

sparkling_water
There was a scaaaary 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 scaaaaary 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 much-circulated piece 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 Sensodyne toothpaste and a Philips Sonicare toothbrush is probably all you need at the end of the day to combat even the toughest Riesling tasting regimen. Regular dental checkups are also advised. 🙂

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7 Responses to “Sparkling water, acidity, wine and teeth”


  1. My teeth were f’ed up way before I started drinking wine. So I’m not worried. Cheers!


  2. Drinking 114 oz. of fluids a day sounds a bit obsessive compulsive or possibly an exaggeration. I don’t drink carbonated beverages myself nor do I drink a great deal of wine at a time, so my dentist has one less thing to scold me about.


  3. Great piece! Thanks for explaining this so well. I read the story about sparkling water being bad for our teeth and felt terribly discouraged. What, if anything, is actually good for us, I thought.

    Who, however, remembers anything from chemistry class? Certainly not me!


  4. Wait to brush your teeth for 30 min after having an acidic beverage or food, otherwise you risk brushing off some of your enamel. I am a dental hygienist.


  5. To reiterate what Dawn said, DO NOT brush your teeth after a tasting. An Australian dentist did a good study on this several years ago, using an assistant winemaker who was basically tasting all day long. At judgings in AU and NZ there were various post-judging fluoride tooth treatments, though I realize there is controversy about fluoride as well.


  6. @ Dawn & James – works for me! Thanks for your thoughts.


  7. Baking soda and a little salt? Brushing with this simple mix of these is a well known dental paste substitute*, should be perfect for neutralizing any acid, since baking soda is basic.

    See for example http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/julia-roberts-doesnt-use-toothpaste-for-that-megawatt-smile/ or just Google it.


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