When you get braces, your dentist will usually tell you to avoid sugary and acidic beverages like soda, juice, and sports drinks — but can you drink sparkling water with braces? After all, it contains no sugar and it is only mildly acidic.
You’ll be happy to learn that it is okay to drink sparkling water with braces — if you exercise moderation and practice good oral hygiene. With strong brushing and flossing habits and regular visits to your dentist and orthodontist, drinking sparkling water with braces is unlikely to harm your teeth.
However, sparkling water does contain carbonic acid, making it acidic and mildly erosive. That means without proper care, sparkling water has the potential to contribute to tooth decay, enamel erosion, and even cavities.
A Healthier Carbonated Beverage for Your Teeth
Sparkling water is a better alternative to more erosive carbonated beverages like soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks. It contains no sugar, which is a huge benefit to your oral health. As a minimally erosive beverage, unflavored sparkling water is less likely to cause damage to your teeth — while still satisfying those intense carbonation cravings.
But don’t start pounding cans of LaCroix or Bubly just yet. There are a few things you should know before drinking sparkling water with braces.
How to Safely Drink Sparkling Water with Braces
If you plan to drink sparkling water or other acidic beverages with braces, take the following precautions to keep your teeth healthy and avoid complications during your orthodontic treatment. Doing so will help to avoid unsightly tooth scarring that can occur as a result of poor oral hygiene with braces.
1. Avoid Flavored Sparkling Water
Unfortunately, flavored sparkling water is not an ideal choice for those with braces. Flavored sparkling water is often significantly more acidic than unflavored sparkling water. This is especially true for those with citrus flavors.
The American Dental Association has categorized beverages into classifications of erosivity. Unflavored sparkling water is considered “minimally erosive.” Meanwhile, flavored sparkling water can sometimes have a pH of less than 3 (low pH equates to high acidity). That would place it in the “extremely erosive” category, alongside the likes of lemonade, sports drinks, and soda.
2. Don’t Brush Immediately After Drinking Sparkling Water
It may be counterintuitive, but it’s true; brushing your teeth immediately after drinking sparkling water can damage your teeth. When you drink sparkling water and other acidic beverages, your teeth are left softer and more vulnerable for a period of about 30 minutes. During this time, the intense abrasion from your toothbrush can remove enamel — the outer coating of your teeth.
This doesn’t mean you can’t drink sparkling water with braces. Simply wait 30 minutes after drinking an acidic beverage before brushing your teeth.
3. Use a Straw
Dentists commonly recommend using a straw when sipping beverages that are prone to staining our teeth. While sparkling water is unlikely to contribute to staining, a straw can help to limit contact between the beverage and your teeth. Less contact means less opportunity to harm your teeth with the acidic beverage.
Additionally, for some people, using a straw can help to encourage better hydration throughout the day. Hydration is crucial for oral health and general wellbeing.
4. Practice Moderation
Sparkling water is significantly less likely to harm your teeth when you have braces if you avoid drinking it excessively. The less often your teeth make contact with an erosive beverage, the less likely damage will occur. When you drink several cans of sparkling water daily with braces, you may be putting your teeth at greater risk for a variety of complications.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to avoid sparkling water altogether. No more than 2 daily is a good rule of thumb, but be sure to ask your dentist or orthodontist for their recommendation. Alternating with tap water is a good option, as it can help to wash away acidity, and provides the fluoride your teeth need to remain strong and healthy.
5. Avoid Sipping for Extended Periods of Time
The longer it takes you to drink a beverage, the more time it will remain in contact with your teeth. And if that beverage is acidic, sipping it for hours on end can spell trouble.
Instead of slowly sipping a can of sparkling water over the course of an hour, it’s better to gulp it down in five or ten minutes. That way, you can also keep your drink cold and avoid losing carbonation.
6. Drink Your Sparkling Water with Meals
Drinking sparkling water alongside a meal is another great way to help avoid harming your teeth with braces. When we eat, our mouths produce saliva, which naturally helps to neutralize acids in the foods and drinks we consume.
Eating with your beverage also encourages you to drink more quickly, reducing the period of time the acid will remain in your mouth.
Additional Tips to Care for Teeth with Braces
It’s true — there are a lot of rules when you wear braces. It can be difficult to keep track of what you can and can’t do, but you should heed the advice of your orthodontist first and foremost. If you cannot remember their recommendations, be sure to call their office for clarification.
However, most orthodontists will offer the following general care recommendations:
Brush Your Teeth Regularly
Brushing 2-3 times daily can help to eliminate bacteria and reduce the risk of cavities, gum disease, tooth discoloration, and other avoidable problems. Take care to avoid breaking the metal wires or dislodging brackets when brushing. For best results, try to angle the toothbrush against the bottom of the brackets and push upward.
Drink Plenty of Regular Water
Staying hydrated is essential to your oral health. Drinking tap water can help to wash away food debris, plaque, acid, and sugar. Water also helps to fight dry mouth – a common contributor to tooth decay.
Additionally, tap water contains fluoride. Fluoride is an important mineral for strengthening your teeth and preventing tooth decay.
Select the Right Dental Hygiene Products
Not all dental hygiene products are created equal, especially when you have braces. Some brands of toothpaste contain ingredients that can be damaging to metal braces.
Additionally, mouthwash that contains red or green dyes should be avoided, it may stain parts of your braces. Ask your dentist or orthodontist which products they recommend most.
Flossing might just be the most difficult oral hygiene habit to maintain. That’s a shame, because it’s vital to the health of your teeth and gums. Flossing can help prevent problems like bad breath and tooth decay, and it usually only needs to be done once a day.
It can be difficult to thread the floss through your braces, but products like Oral-B Super Floss can make that much easier.
Use a Water Flosser
While not a replacement for brushing or flossing, a water flosser can be a great addition to your oral hygiene routine — especially if you have braces.
Simply fill the device with tap water and use the wand to spray a pressurized stream between your teeth and braces. You may be surprised at how much food and plaque you are able to dislodge. Doing so can be a great way to help minimize oral bacteria and protect your gums.
Waterpik water flossers are an affordable option that have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.
Avoid Certain Foods
Sticky, crunchy, hard or chewy — these are a few qualities of food you should avoid while you have braces. These types of foods can become stuck in your braces, break wires, and loosen brackets. Damage to your braces can require repairs and lengthen the duration of your treatment.
Here are several common foods to avoid:
- Tough meat
- Peanut butter
- Sticky or hard candy
- Crunchy vegetables
- Pizza crust
- Corn chips
Keep Your Dental Appointments
A missed dental appointment might not seem like a big deal, but it is, especially if you are undergoing orthodontic care. At your regular cleaning, you can have your teeth and braces thoroughly cleaned, which can help you avoid serious complications.
Your dentist will also be able to detect problems early, such as tooth decay or gum disease. Neglecting regular dental care may even result in your orthodontist being forced to remove your braces until your mouth is in better shape.
Can Sparkling Water Damage Braces?
Sparkling water is not likely to cause damage to your braces. Beverages that contain dyes may stain your braces’ metal brackets. However, sparkling water is most often a dye-free beverage.
Avoid sparkling water brands that contains dyes, as dye is unnecessary and increases the risk of staining your braces and teeth.
Drinking Sparkling Water with Braces is Okay
Luckily, sparkling water is far from the worst beverage you could be drinking with braces. Its acidity is usually low and it contains no sugar.
However there are several precautions you should take when drinking an acidic beverage like sparkling water while you have braces. From practicing moderation to avoiding citrus flavored varieties of the beverage, there are things you can do to protect your teeth.
Most important of all, be sure to heed the advice of your orthodontic and dental professionals as individual circumstances may vary.