I have been told that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) dissolved in carbonated water produces carbonic acid, that can attack your tooth enamel.

The Daily Mail claims:

believe it or not sparkling water is almost as damaging to your teeth as flavoured fizzy drinks. This is because your teeth are constantly being bathed in a weak acid solution containing carbon dioxide - thought to wear away our teeth. After repeated attacks over several years, this acid can erode the enamel - the hard part of our teeth made from calcium salts.

Is there any evidence that this is a significant cause of tooth damage, in the dosages one might expect to drink?

I know there are other questions asking about flavoured sodas (e.g. Does (diet) soda cause tooth decay?), however, my question is about unsweetened and unflavoured tap water, that has been carbonated with CO2.

  • Welcome to Skeptics.SE! We are looking for notable claims - claims made by, and believed by, other people, not for your own speculation. With a bit of work, I think we can turn this into a better question.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 3:45
  • 11
    That's interesting, since (according to wikipedia at least) breathing causes carbonic acid as well. if this is true, breathing is bad for your teeth. Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 8:44
  • 3
    @TimothyGroote I'm pretty sure the quantity of carbon dioxide in your breath is far less than the amount found in carbonated water.
    – March Ho
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 4:24

1 Answer 1


A journal article on the topic found a negligible (but non-zero) effect of carbonated waters on tooth enamel. The claim in the Daily Mail is clearly in dissonance with the results from this study.

Dissolution levels with all of the mineral waters were very low and for several still waters were undetectable. (...) De-gassing of a sparkling mineral water reduced its dissolution, but the total levels were still relatively low suggesting that carbonation of drinks may not be an important factor per se in respect of erosive potential. The complex and heterogeneous mineral compositions of mineral waters could influence the dissolution equilibrium of apatite in enamel and controlled addition of several ions to ultrapure deionized water was investigated.

(source: J Oral Rehabil. 2001 Aug;28(8):766-72)

The idea that carbonated water harms teeth may be based on the fact that dissolving carbon dioxide in water results in some carbonic acid. However, this did not result significant enamel decay.

When carbon dioxide is dissolved in water, small amounts of carbonic acid are formed, making the water slightly more acidic. However, when researchers soaked human teeth in various still and sparkling waters, they found that neither were harmful to the teeth.

(source: Nutrition Diva: Is Carbonated Water Bad for You?)

  • So the answer is Yes, it does harm your teeth according to these sources and this one bellow. An "negligible" harm is quite an imprecise term that would need to be scientifically quantify. The difference between "none" and "negligible" and "high" may vary greatly depending on your consumption. Using vague term such as "negligible" might more profit some companies than you teeth. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2676420
    – JinSnow
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 8:54
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    The answer is actually No, there is no evidence to suggest that carbonated waters are a significant cause of tooth damage, where significant is an important word, as the effect was non-zero. The study you link to is not about carbonated water, but about soft drinks.
    – Spork
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 9:09
  • I will check again I might be wrong.
    – JinSnow
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 9:21
  • 4
    @GuillaumeCombot A single atom being knocked out of place makes "none" a technically inaccurate statement. Negligible is an extremely important word even if not precise Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 16:07

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