A popular fad today that has risen among those who want healthier drinks than sodas and something better tasting than ordinary water is flavored water. These drinks come in many flavors and often taste good. The problem is that this fruit-infused water is not good for your teeth.
The Cause of Cavities
When it comes to getting cavities, they are caused by bacteria in your mouth that produce acid. The acid erodes the tooth enamel, causing holes and pits which eventually form cavities. Brushing your teeth twice daily will remove the bacteria and acid from your teeth.
Flavored water is often given its flavoring by adding natural fruit juices. This means that it is often highly acidic. The acid in the flavored water then adds to the damage from the acid already in your mouth.
The acid from the bacteria and other acidic foods or drinks will also slowly remove some of the minerals in your teeth. This weakens them and can lead to teeth damage such as chipping, cracking, or decaying faster. When you eat healthy, this provides the minerals needed to replenish the minerals lost – but it will not rebuild your enamel.
A Healthier Alternative
Fruit-flavored water was largely made to be a better alternative than soda. In the sense that they have much less sugar in them than sodas, and use all-natural flavoring, they are certainly better. The problem with why they can harm your teeth is that they use fruit juices to provide the taste.
Fruit juices can be very acidic – especially the juice from citrus fruits, which includes lemons, oranges, grapefruit, and limes. Lemon juice, for instance, is even a little more acidic than Coke.
The strength of an acid is measured by its pH level. Water is neither a base nor an acid and it sits right in the middle with a pH level of 7.0. Anything with a pH level of 5.0 is said to be the level where it can corrode teeth, and a pH of 1.0 is battery acid. With that in mind, lemon juice is the most corrosive, with a pH of 2.25. Coke is only slightly better at 2.37. Nearly all fruit-flavored drinks have a pH level that is between 3.3 and lower. This means that it will certainly help to erode your tooth enamel.
Protecting Your Teeth from Flavored Water
Even though the acid in fruit water is strong, it is not necessary that you give it up completely to protect your teeth. Having a little taste in your water does make it a little tastier. Here are some things you might do to help protect your teeth:
- Rinse your mouth out with regular water or drink water after consuming an acidic drink or food.
- Drink mostly regular water throughout the day and limit how much-flavored water you drink.
- Chew sugarless gum to increase saliva, which will help remove acid and bacteria from your teeth.
The same acid that can hurt your teeth can also damage your gums. The acid irritates your gums and can cause an immune system reaction, fueled by the bacteria in your mouth. This can lead to gum disease – gingivitis at first, then possibly periodontitis. Periodontitis attacks your gums, causing them to recede, and the immune reaction starts attacking your gums, the support structures for your teeth, and your jawbone.
Children and Flavored Water
Although fruit flavored water is healthier than other options such as sports drinks, fruit juices, and sodas, the amount that children drink should be limited. The enamel on their teeth is softer than an adult’s enamel, and the increased acid will likely cause more cavities to develop.
Brushing Your Teeth
It is not recommended that you brush your teeth after eating or drinking acidic foods. The acid in the food softens the enamel on your teeth and brushing right away will cause tiny amounts of enamel to be brushed away. Since your enamel does not grow back, it is slowly helping to thin your enamel, helping to make more cavities.
Other Acidic Drinks
Besides natural water flavoring, there are other acidic drinks you need to be aware of because any acidic drink will damage your teeth. Other drinks that contain a lot of acids include alcoholic drinks, coffee, and tea. In addition to the acid, these drinks can harm your teeth because they will dry out your mouth. When you have a dry mouth, you do not produce enough saliva to naturally help wash away the bacteria and acid away from your teeth.