Yes, the Water You Drink Can Actually Affect Your Dental Health

Here’s what to look for in your H2O, according to dentists

man in a pink tee shirt and glasses drinking water
The simple science of drinking water goes a long way
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It’s common sense that sugary drinks can do a number on your tooth enamel. However, we never really stopped to think that the type of water we drink can actually have an effect on pearly whites as well. But according to real-life dentists, certain types of water are better for your teeth.

If you’ve ever perused the water fridge at your local supermarket or bodega (haven’t we all), the options can be overwhelming. Mineral, spring, sparkling, alkaline — you likely have a favorite, or maybe you just choose the cheapest bottle or something you’ve had before. But according to Onaedo Achebe, DDS, the founder of Minti Oral Care, the pH level of your water is the most telling sign of how good it is for your teeth. “Certain types of water can be bad for teeth health if they are too acidic, which can contribute to tooth erosion over time,” Dr. Achebe told Well + Good. “If water is too acidic, it can gradually wear away the protective layer of tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay.”

Let’s go back to middle school science class for a minute. If you remember, the pH scale determines how acidic or alkaline something is. Seven is neutral, anything below that number is acidic, and anything above it is alkaline. “In general, water with a pH level between 7.5 and 8.5 is considered the safest for dental health,” Dr. Achebe adds.

We’re mostly taught that sugar is the culprit in teeth erosion, but acid plays a part, too. Well + Good also talked to dentist Brian Harris, DDS/DMD, who said, “Most people would think that all water and most zero-calorie drinks would be good for your teeth and help prevent cavities, but that is not the case as cavities are not caused by sugar alone; they are caused by a bacteria called streptococcus mutans. These bacteria consume the sugar and release acid, which is what causes the cavities.” So if these bacteria thrive in acidic environments, it’s one more reason to drink natural spring water, alkaline water and filtered tap water, according to Dr. Achebe.

While sugary, acidic drinks like juice and soda can’t (and won’t) always be avoided, Dr. Achebe suggests rinsing with water after drinking them, as well as regular brushing and flossing, can help mitigate their effects on tooth decay.

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