At this point, anybody who's visited a dentist knows sugary, acidic foods are bad for your teeth. Think sour candies, soft drinks, and citrus fruits. And if you haven't been to a dentist -- 'ello, guvna!
In any case, an article published in The Atlantic reveals one popular alternative to soft drinks is still pretty bad: seltzer. While lacking in the sugars and citric acid that turn your teeth into the guy who chose poorly in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, seltzer and sparkling waters contain carbonic acid, which is where the bubbles come from. Hence, carbonated. And that gives seltzer a ph level of about 5.5, where flat water has a neutral ph of 7. Regular Coke, for example, has a ph of about 2.5 -- and the lower the pH, the more corrosive the food on your teeth.
What that really means is that while you're not downing the extra sugar and other acids, going hog-wild on 12-packs of Perrier and bubbly waters still isn't the best idea.
"There is a theoretical risk of tooth erosion, but the drinks would have to be consumed over a long period of time,” Damien Walmsley, a professor of dentistry at the University of Birmingham told The Atlantic. “My advice is to keep acidic drinks to meal times, and if you have to sip drinks between meals, then plain water is the safest.”
Additionally, flavored seltzers often get that flavoring through the inclusion of citric acid, thus making the drink worse for your teeth.
In the end, seltzer and sparkling water aren't THAT bad for your teeth. But if you're truly concerned about your pearly off-whites, well, stick to water. And maybe drink through a straw.
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Ryan Craggs is Thrillist's Senior News Editor. He almost never drinks seltzer. Unless there's liquor mixed with it. Follow him @ryanrcraggs.