The pH scale is a numeric scale that determines the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The numbers on the pH range from one to 14, with seven as the neutral number. Any aqueous solution with a pH lower than seven is deemed acidic, while anything with a pH greater than seven is alkaline or basic. This makes the pH level of sparkling water alarming considering that wine has a pH level of 3.6, as does vinegar.
How and why sparkling water becomes so acidic can be easily explained. When asked by the HuffingtonPost.co.uk, Professor Damian Walmsley, Scientific Adviser to the British Dental Association, stated: “Carbonated water gets its fizz from the release of CO2 and then this dissolves in water into carbonic acid, which gives it a refreshing taste, but also makes it more acidic.”
The “refreshing taste” may be why so many people consume sparkling water. As a dentist, Thorne has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of people who've suffered acid damage to their teeth in the last decade. He's pinpointed constant drinking and snacking as the main culprits behind these incidents.
“Everywhere you go people are sipping smoothies, coffee, juices and fizzy water. These are all highly acidic and attack your teeth. Every time you consume something like this it takes your tooth enamel three hours to recover from it. When you eat something sticky or sugary, little acid attacks erupt in your mouth that strips your enamel of vital minerals. After the attacks, saliva swishes around your mouth, cleaning off debris and redepositing those lost minerals,” Thorne has said. (Related: Is This the 1970s? Coca-Cola Claims It Doesn't Rot Teeth - Insists It's "Kiddie Safe")
He then further elaborated by stating: “But if you're sipping all day, your teeth never get a chance and are under a constant acid attack. This can cause the protective enamel to erode, causing pain and sensitivity. It can also lead to decay.”
Claire Stevens, a National Health Service (NHS) dental consultant, has expressed a similar viewpoint using a scenario where two people drank a soft drink. One person would finish the soft drink in one go, the other would sip it throughout the day. The second would be at greater risk of tooth decay even though they drank the same beverage. “It takes anything from 30 minutes to two hours for the mouth to recover. If you’re snacking or drinking sugar more than every 30 minutes, there’s no chance for the mouth to recover," Stevens said.
If you must have a glass of sparkling water, then Thorne recommends consuming it all at once or drinking through a straw in order to minimize damage. Other ways to prevent your teeth enamel from suffering erosion include avoiding frequent snacks and giving your teeth a three to four-hour break in-between meals. The stimulation of saliva can also serve as protection for your teeth, so the DailyMail.co.uk suggests ending your meal with a crunchy vegetable like a carrot, cucumber or a cabbage leaf.
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