A trending recipe that mixes flavored sparkling water with balsamic vinegar to create a so-called healthier alternative to soda has gone viral on social media platform TikTok. However, some are concerned about the effect on teeth, since acid can erode tooth enamel.
A TikTok video in which balsamic vinegar is added to flavored sparkling water, both of which are heavily acidic, has received more than 6.3 million views. Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a spokesperson for the ADA, worried it's a trend that's not kind to teeth.
"I love balsamic vinegar, but I enjoy it more on my salad than in my drinking glass. It's much kinder to the teeth than bathing them in a beverage blend of two acids," Hewlett stated in a press release. "The more acidic the drink, the greater the risk of tooth erosion with frequent consumption."
Acidic foods and beverages can wear away at the enamel that protects teeth. Tooth erosion is permanent and can lead to further complications, like cavities and infection. It can also lead to tooth discoloration, as white enamel is worn away to expose the yellow layer below.
Recent research in JADA Foundational Science shows that acids in sugar-free beverages may erode tooth enamel. The study authors examined the effects of bottled water, flavored sparkling water, and unflavored sparkling water on tooth erosion. Extracted teeth were submerged in each type of water for 24 hours, which researchers considered equivalent to one year's worth of exposure to the beverages. The findings indicate that both sparkling waters harmed tooth enamel, while bottled water left tooth enamel unchanged.
While the TikTok trend was not included in the study, the recipe is similar to other sugar-free and acidic beverages tested by researchers. The ADA offered the following tips to help prevent tooth erosion caused by acidic foods and beverages:
- Do not hold beverages in your mouth longer than necessary. Use a straw, sip, and swallow.
- Wait an hour before brushing after consumption to allow saliva to naturally wash away acids and reharden enamel.
- Rinse with water, drink milk, or snack on cheese after consuming acidic beverages or foods. Dairy and calcium-rich foods help neutralize acids.
- Chew sugarless gum to keep saliva flowing. Saliva will help to protect teeth and keep acids under control.
- Look for dental health products like enamel erosion-control toothpaste and sugarless gum.
- Practice good oral health daily. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss, eat a healthy diet, and visit a dentist regularly.
"People find carbonated beverages refreshing, especially this time of year. Enjoy them in moderation and preferably with meals," Hewlett stated. "But if you're looking for a glass of something that is actually good for your dental health, regular water, including fluoridated tap water, or milk are always good options."