Is sparkling water healthy? Dentists warn about risks of seltzer drinks

Posted at 11:40 AM, Jul 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-25 13:10:51-04
Seems everyone’s drinking the bubbly water with just the hint of fruity essence, but dentists are warning consumers about the health risk with these seltzer drinks.
Latest numbers show that 168 million gallons of seltzer were sold in the U.S. in 2015, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, and popularity has been exploding ever since.
Just ask entrepreneur Peter Shankman. When he wanted to lose weight, he pumped up the exercise and switched from diet soda to flavored seltzer.
“I could get that same sort of fizziness, that same feeling in the back of my throat," ” said Shankman. "I’d get full; it had no calories, and it had no artificial anything."
He lost the weight, but still drinks it—a lot.
“On a typical day, I probably go through two to three liters of seltzer” said Shankman.
Seltzer is merely carbonated water. But, when flavored, essences of acidic fruit like lemon, lime, raspberry and cherry are added.
Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association and a professor at UCLA School of Dentistry, says it’s those acids that are causing concern. “
What we’re seeing as dentists is a corresponding increase in erosion of teeth,” said Dr. Hewlett, adding that the acids can eventually eat away at enamel, as with all acidic drinks. "There are no hard numbers in terms of cases linked to seltzer, but research has shown the risk is real."
Before you freak out over your favorite fizz, listen up. “In moderate consumption,” said Dr. Hewlett. “It’s not a big deal.” He says the risk is with frequent exposure, and how you drink matters, too.
‘Chugging’ is better than sipping because sipping allows acid to stay on your teeth longer. But, the worst thing you can do? Something called ‘swilling.’ “So, swilling a beverage, keeping it in the mouth, flushing it around, it’s like giving your teeth an acid Jacuzzi,” according to Dr. Hewlett. “
To lower risk, experts say to drink regular water in between as a rinse, and, occasionally, mix a little baking soda in water to help neutralize acids. Also, drinking the flavored seltzer with food is better than without because the food helps stimulate saliva, which will aid in rinsing any acid out of your mouth.
As for the tip often bantered about that drinking with a straw is better because the drink bypasses your teeth, Dr. Hewlett says there really isn’t scientific evidence to back that up, but that it couldn’t hurt.
Shankman says he’s a “chugger” and drinks plenty of plain water, too.
Regardless, he says for him the benefits of seltzer outweigh any potential risks,
“You gotta live a little," said Shankman. "If my version of living a little is seltzer? I think I’m doing okay!”