Drinking sparkling water, such as LaCroix, is rising in popularity as a replacement for drinking regular still water. But are LaCroix and other sparkling waters bad for your teeth? As a dental hygienist, below is what I tell my patients regarding sparkling water and oral health.
LaCroix, a sparkling water variant, has a pH range of 3-4. Dental issues such as demineralization and acid erosion start at pH 5.5 or below, leading to tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and cavities. Rapid consumption rather than prolonged sipping of such beverages can mitigate these risks.
But there are ways to safely consume sparkling water to prevent damage to the teeth. In this post, I explain how pH levels of sparkling water affect the teeth, why you don’t need to cut it out entirely and ways to consume it safely.
As a dental hygienist, I want to provide you with information and the best advice I can give you, not to banish your favourite drinks such as LaCroix.
The effects of LaCroix and sparkling water on teeth
Drinking the odd sparkling water such as LaCroix is OK. I do not want to come across like I am telling you that you need to stop drinking it altogether. Moderation is key!
Our mouths are very sensitive to pH levels, and almost everything we consume is under the 5.5 pH level. Below is an excellent handout Sensodyne created that I give patients explaining more about acid erosion and popular food and drink items than can thin enamel.
Acid erosion on the teeth usually happens slowly, and the person does not know it is happening, and it can occur with anything consumed that is below a pH level of 5.5.
Because the knowledge isn’t widespread about the potential consequences of drinking sparkling water, the genius marketing of LaCroix, Bubly, Sodastream, and other brands has enticed people to drink more frequently.
I have had so many patients working from home, and they have more of an endless supply of sparkling water in the fridge… my husband included. I have seen an increase in the consumption of sparkling wat. I have even shifted my dental hygiene practice to educate people about their sparkling water consumption to prevent acid erosion.
When the tooth is in an acid state, the tooth starts to dissolve and lose minerals, making the teeth more soft.
Frequency and longevity of drinking LaCroix and other sparkling waters can lead to;
- Acid erosion
- Tooth sensitivity
- Translucent enamel
Translucent teeth are often overlooked, but especially for the front teeth, they are already thinner and do not have thick enamel at the edge to make them appear white. Over time when the enamel is lost, the teeth become more see through, making them appear darker and dull.
Below is a post I wrote all about tooth translucency and how to maintain your enamel!
Read Now: Preventing Tooth Translucency: 13 Tips to Maintain Enamel
Brushing with toothpaste formulated for acid erosion is very important to prevent all these potential adverse effects.
But when is the best time to brush your teeth after drinking LaCroix?
Do you have to brush your teeth after drinking LaCroix?
Brushing teeth right after drinking sparkling water can lead to tooth abrasion. To prevent this, wait at least 30 minutes for saliva to neutralize the acid and restore a safe pH level above 5.5, allowing the tooth to reharden, making brushing safe.
An added tip to prevent the teeth from acid erosion and toothbrush abrasion is to use toothpaste formulated explicitly for acidic diets.
My favourite is Sensodyne ProNamel toothpaste. ProNamel is the gold standard of toothpaste for acid erosion, and in this study, the remineralized tooth surface was more resistant to acid erosion than the competitors.
This means that using Sensodyne ProNamel protects your teeth from future demineralization and acid erosion.
It can seem different to not rinse with water after brushing, and not what you are used to, but the results are excellent and can significantly impact oral health.
I also recommend using an electric toothbrush while brushing. It is both more effective for brushing, but some come with a pressure sensor to let you know when you are brushing too hard.
The pressure sensor will flash red to let you know you are brushing too hard, but also lower the power of the toothbrush so you will prevent damage to the oral tissues.
Choosing an electric toothbrush can be difficult, but to aid you in your decision, I put together an unbiased comparison of the best toothbrushes on the market; Sonicare and Oral-B. The post is linked below.
Read Now: Hygienist Compares: Sonicare vs. Oral-B Electric Toothbrushes
Is LaCroix worse for your teeth than soda?
Sparkling water, including LaCroix, is not worse for your teeth than soda. However, people are more likely to drink multiple sparkling waters daily than soda.
It comes back to the amount of time the mouth is at a pH level lower than 5.5. The longer the mouth is at a lower pH, the more acid erosion can occur.
If someone drinks one soda quickly, swishes with water after and brushes at least 30 minutes after, this is better than someone who sips on sparkling water throughout the day.
Soda has a low pH level, but because of the high sugar content in soda, the sugar feeds the bacteria in the mouth, and as the bacteria consume the sugar, it produces acid. This cycle continues, and it allows the bacteria to thrive and multiply, causing even more acid to be produced.
Tooth decay is more likely when sugar and a lower pH are involved. Below is a simple diagram to show how sugar impacts bacteria and leads to caries (cavities).
Is it OK to drink LaCroix instead of water?
It is OK to drink LaCroix instead of water in moderation due to the acid erosion effects on the teeth due to the low pH level. Do not fully replace regular still water with sparkling water. Limit sparkling water to one a day, drink it quickly, and rinse with water after to protect the teeth.
Sparkling water is either low-calorie or calorie-free, just like regular still water. It is also hydrating, and I even read that it can have a more thirst-quenching feeling than regular still water due to the bubbles, which can satisfy people more.
I hope this information has helped you and that you don’t feel like you have to completely cut out your favourite LaCroix or sparkling water flavour.