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Is soda water bad for my teeth? And what can I do to prevent erosion?

Acids in drinks can erode your teeth over time.(Adobe Stock:  Jari Hindström)
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Bubbly water seems like a healthy choice, but is it secretly doing damage to our teeth?

Launceston author and dentist Dan Craig says there are two things in drinks that can cause damage to teeth: sugar and acids.

While sparkling and soda water don't contain sugar, they do have acid.

"Carbon dioxide forms with water and forms a carbonic acid, which is quite a weak acid," Dr Craig told Helen Shield on ABC Radio Hobart.

"But the more you pump in, the more acidic it gets and the more gas that is released."

He says the acid can be a problem because it washes away the surface of the teeth.

According to the Australian Dental Association, acidic foods and drinks are the main cause of tooth erosion for most people.

Tooth erosion can cause sensitivity in teeth, chips and fractures, and teeth can become darker in appearance.

The acid in bubbly water can cause erosion in your teeth.(gerenme/iStockPhoto)

So how bad is it?

Dr Craig says the flatter the water, the less harmful it is.

"[Soda water] is not that bad. It's not that acidic unless you're pumping heaps of carbon dioxide into it," he says.

As with most things, drink in moderation.

"If you're having one or two a week, I don't think it's that bad," Dr Craig says.

"If you're having three or four glasses a day, I'd probably say slow it down."

Dr Dan Craig says the fizzier the sparkling water, the more acid that's in it.(Supplied: Pixabay)

Check the ingredients

Soda water, club soda and sparkling water are all the same (water that has been carbonated) but may have different fizz levels, where as sparkling mineral waters can contain minerals.

Dr Craig says it's important to check the ingredients label, if you're not bubbling up the water yourself with a benchtop appliance.

"Tonic water tends to have some flavouring in it, so check on the back," he says.

"Look for anything that says 'acid' in it. They can be disguised sneakily as food acidity regulators, antioxidants or preservatives."

Chemical or common names of food additives are often replaced with code numbers on food labels.

Dr Craig says the codes you need to watch out for are 330, 331, 296, 300, and any flavour additives are concerning.

"Those additives can sometimes enhance how acidic those drinks are," he says.

He says energy drinks are by far the worst for teeth.

"I'd much rather someone drink soda water than Coke, and I'd rather someone drink Coke than energy drinks," he says.

How can I help my teeth?

"If you're having those really acidic drinks, have a rinse with water afterwards," Dr Craig says.

"Or rinse with half a teaspoon of bicarb soda and a cup of water to rinse around with."

The bicarb acts to neutralise the acid.

"You can also sip with a straw and not let it touch your teeth," he says.

Don't brush straight after!

If you have an acidic drink, Dr Craig says the enamel of your teeth will soften for two to three hours afterwards.

"Avoid brushing immediately after having something acidic," he says.

"The calcium in your saliva makes it strong again.

"One of the worst things you can do is start brushing straight away afterwards."

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