All water isn’t created equal — different mineral contents and additives lend this staple beverage different tastes. And it’s the different taste, along with the purported benefits of certain kinds of water and the grab-and-go convenience, that have helped give rise to a bottled water industry that’s worth over $300 billion. While water is and always has been the healthiest option for you — for both your overall health and that of your teeth — trendy bottled waters may actually be doing more harm than good.
Sparkling water, or water that’s carbonated either through natural or artificial means, can be harming your oral health. The carbonation process creates a more acidic beverage than plain water — a fact that researchers are sure does little to no damage to your teeth when compared to regular water. Compared to sugary drinks like sodas, juices, or sports drinks, sparkling water is still a healthier choice. But the winner when it comes to health will always be just plain, regular water.
The problem with sparkling water comes from the additives. Even light flavoring like citrus can add up to big damage over time. And sparkling “waters” with added sugar aren’t really water at all — they’re lightly flavored soft drinks. While these can be fine in moderation, plan to enjoy them in a single sitting or with a meal to minimize the damage they can cause.
Alkaline water is a newcomer to the bottled water market, with fans of the stuff claiming all sorts of benefits (which may or may not be confirmed by science). Alkaline water in and of itself isn’t necessarily harmful to your teeth — unless you’re predisposed to enamel damage by other risk factors.
In some cases, the occasional bottle of alkaline water may help your teeth; for example, if you’re drinking it following a highly acidic meal or snack, the alkalinity of the water can help neutralize the acids. But too much of a good thing is still a bad thing: repeated and constant exposure to high alkalinity can cause flaking enamel and possibly compromise the strength of your teeth. Like other beverages that aren’t just plain water, use moderation with alkaline water and speak to your dentist about any concerns.
Surely plain bottled water can’t be harming your dental health, right? It’s not sparkling, it’s not highly acidic or highly alkaline — it’s just plain water, no? Maybe, maybe not. Although bottled water may seem like a safe and standardized option for a beverage on the go, manufacturers are not required to give consumers a rundown of contaminants or even a full disclosure of the source of their water, as might be the case with your public water supply. Additionally, some companies may opt to add minerals like sodium, phosphorous and magnesium to enhance the flavoring of their product.
Bottled water can be a mixed bag when it comes to fluoridation, too. The United States Food and Drug Administration does not require packaged water companies to report on the label whether their products are fluoridated or not, despite the knowledge that fluoride is an important mineral vital to the prevention of tooth decay. This is a stark contrast to the regulations for community and public drinking water sources, which require that fluoride supplementation be added to the supply if the natural source is inadequate to prevent decay and disease.
If your sole source of drinking water is bottled water — even if it’s not sparkling, flavored or otherwise trendy — you could still be putting your oral health and that of your children at risk by missing out on fluoride. Spring water rarely has enough fluoride, and water purified by reverse osmosis may contain little or none of the mineral.
The Best Choices and Next Steps
When it comes to maintaining optimal oral health, consider where you get your drinking water. Public and community water supplies offer consumer health and quality reports annually or at the request of consumers. If your home water supply is from a well or spring, consider having it tested.
If, instead of filling your reusable water bottle from your tap, you opt for bottled or trendy waters, consider the effects that may have on your teeth and plan accordingly. Some bottled waters are best as a “sometimes” beverage, while others should be enjoyed in moderation.
If you have concerns about possible damage from drinking trendy water or bottled water, or you feel you or your family may be lacking in fluoride because of the source of your water, speak to your dentist. If extra fluoride is needed to prevent decay or help a child’s teeth develop strong and healthy, an extra rinse or supplementation may be needed. Conversely, too much fluoride can also cause problems, which your dentist can help remedy.
How We Can Help
The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur is thrilled that you’re giving so much thought to what you put into your body — we want to see you healthy all over. When it comes to your teeth and gums, we’re happy to help and answer any questions you have. Simply give our office a call at (201) 560-0606 or click here to send us an email to make an appointment.
Because every body and every situation is unique, we’ll need to see you in our office to give you advice — it’s the perfect time to get a cleaning or general exam. So bring your favorite bottle of water and come chat with us about your teeth — we’re here to help!