Can Sparkling Water Really Lead to Cavities?

Can Sparkling Water Really Lead to Cavities?
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Seltzer. Carbonated water. Club soda. Whatever you call it, sparkling water is certainly having a moment as Americans attempt to sidestep soda. What’s not to love? It’s refreshing, bubbly and has a hint flavor. “Sparkling water is a better alternative to soda, and sometimes flat water is just boring,” says Jeffrey Rappaport, DDS, general dentist and co-founder of Afora in New York City.

Like most things in life, however, there are pros and cons to tearing through that 12-pack of La Croix. We turned to Rappaport, Haas and recent research to find out if the consensus is Team Seltzer or Team Stick-to-Tap.

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Sparkling Water: The Truth Bubbles Up

The Pros

1. It’ll help you reach your daily water quota.

“Sparkling water does count toward your water consumption. It’s usually just water with carbonation added, so it will be hydrating,” says Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, culinary dietitian. Adequate H2O consumption increases satiety and helps the body tune in to hunger signals, which could be one reason why the club soda-drinking subjects in a German study consumed less fat than their peers who sipped on other drinks.

2. It can save you major cash.

While plain ol’ H2O from the tap is the most budget-friendly option around, if you invest $80 or so in an at-home sparkler, like SodaStream, you can save loads of money in the long run. Consider your vending machine purchase for soda or juice — and the $1.50 price tag that comes along with it. Over the course of a year, a dollar a day on a can cost you $365 or more. Think of all the shoes or workout clothes you could snag instead by making DIY club soda!

3. It’s a great mixer for healthy cocktails.

Skipping the sugary juices and processed drink mixes in favor of flavored sparkling water will give you the same crisp taste for zero calories. (That’s 100-plus calories saved per glass.) Need more pizzazz? Use fresh fruits, herbs — or even a homemade popsicle! — to make your cocktail festive. That healthier wine spritzer or minty mojito might even help you stay better hydrated (and less likely to land a nasty hangover).

4. Your bones should be A-OK.

Heard rumblings that the fizzy stuff can be bad for your bones? A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which followed more than 2,500 women and men, found that regular and diet cola intake correlates with developing osteoporosis. The good news: Their research showed that drinking other carbonated drinks, like club soda, isn’t a culprit.

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The Cons

1. It might damage to your tooth enamel.

“Sparkling water is made by adding carbon dioxide gas to flat water. This process produces carbonic acid, which is the same stuff found in soda — minus the sugar,” Rappaport explains. “When teeth are exposed to high amounts of acid, it eats away at enamel and cavities begin to form,” Rappaport says. To help you reduce your risk of cavities, he recommends brushing or rinsing your teeth with water after drinking seltzer to keep your teeth strong and healthy. He also says that drinking flat water in between consuming other beverages can help rinse your teeth of acids and sugars. In terms of dental damage, on a scale of one (squeaky clean!) to seven (call the dentist), here’s your liquid lineup:

  1. Tap Water
  2. Milk
  3. Coffee
  4. Sparkling Water
  5. Fruit Juice
  6. Diet Soda
  7. Regular Soda

RELATED: 12 Easy Low-Sugar Cocktails with Seltzer Water

2. Sodium and additives can sometimes sneak in.

Options like Pellegrino are H2O + CO2, but many other brands infuse their spritzers with minerals, such as sodium, caffeine and flavorings to bring the taste closer to soda or juice. Stick with the lowest sodium options you can find. Haas recommends seltzer that’s less than 35 milligrams per serving to limit the impact on your blood pressure levels. If you have a strong seltzer habit, select only caffeine-free varieties to steer clear of potential bone impact. (The more sodium consumed via caffeinated and carbonated beverages, the more calcium the body excretes, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.)

RELATED: 6 Everyday Habits That Are Making You Bloated

3. The bloating risk is real.

All those bubbles can do a number on your belly, and the extra air can temporarily mask hunger cues, Haas says. Remember that “sparkling water isn’t a replacement for food. Your body needs a variety of nutrients from a variety of foods to function at its best,” Haas says.

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