Is your water causing cavities?

I’m not talking about the fluoride content of your drinking water. That was briefly discussed in my fluoride article. No, I’m talking about the water itself could be dissolving your teeth.

Never heard of this? It’s not widely known, but most (yes, most!) bottled water is acidic. The water, if at a pH less than 5.5 will start to break down the enamel itself by acid erosion. At pH 6.6, overgrowth of cavity causing bacteria starts to occur. Not exactly the type of thing you want to have happening in your mouth.

If water is pH neutral (7) or alkaline/basic (7+) these effects on the teeth and bacteria does not occur. Actually, having a basic oral environment encourages growth of good bacteria. It’s important information to know!

This article in the Journal of Dental Hygiene looked at several different water brands and tested their pH. The results are shocking for those who assume water should be pH neutral. I’ll summarize the contents of the article.

The pH is largely determined by the mineral content of the water. This will differ in different waters depending on the source of the water and the purification process it undergoes. Natural spring water and Artesian well water come from natural sources that are then filtered and sanitized while retaining the original mineral content. If the pH was alkaline naturally, it still will be when it is bottled. Purified drinking water comes from a public drinking supply source which is then filtered by reverse osmosis, distillation, etc. The mineral content is removed during the filtration process. Some companies add minerals or electrolytes for taste. It is likely that the pH drops during this process.

Alkaline water has become increasingly popular. However, not all alkaline waters are the same. Alkaline mineral water is naturally alkaline due to the mineral content of the water. This is the kind which has been showing health benefits. The other type is alkaline ionized water. This water is source independent, meaning it frequently starts as tap water. The pH is altered through electrolysis. This water has not been thoroughly tested and may even cause heart issues. Always check your bottle to see which kind you have.

The study used a laboratory calibrated pH meter to determine the pH.

Ready for the results of the study?

Ozarks natural spring water—5.16
Nestle Pure Life—6.24
Houston tap—7.29
Pasadena tap—7.58

It is important to know if you are sipping all day on an acidic water, as this can significantly alter your oral bacteria to favor cavity causing bacteria, as well as potentially causing erosion. Also if you keep a bottle of water on the bedside table, you want to have a neutral to basic water, as saliva production slows at night and cavity risk goes up.

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