A viral drink trend that sees sweet-flavoured powders and syrups added to water to make it taste better has sparked concern amongst health experts.
Dentists are warning of the dangers of jumping on the #WaterTok trend, which has garnered more than 100million views on TikTok, saying the sugars within the products could erode tooth enamel and cause decay.
It has also triggered reactions from other health experts, with dietitians claiming the sweeteners present in ‘zero sugar’ alternatives are bad for your gut.
Influencers are sharing clips detailing their ‘water of the day’ recipes — which involve a concoction of aspartame-filled powders and syrups.
Similar to squash, which is popular in the UK, these concentrated products turn plain H20 into sugary, bright-coloured beverages.
Dentists are warning of the dangers of jumping on the #WaterTok trend, which has garnered more than 100million views on TikTok (Pictured is a ‘mermaid’ sugar syrup)
Influencers are sharing clips detailing their ‘water of the day’ recipes — which involve a concoction of aspartame-filled powders and syrups (Pictured is a tub full of powder sachets)
Similar to squash, which is popular in the UK, these concentrated products turn plain H20 into sugary, bright-coloured beverages
While flavourings can add a delicious twist to water, dentist Dr Alan Clarke, clinical director of Belfast-based practice Paste Dental, warned of the potential dental health impacts.
‘Sugary syrups, in particular, can have a negative effect on your teeth,’ he said.
‘When you consume sugary syrups, the sugar combines with bacteria in your mouth to create an acid that attacks your tooth enamel.’
‘Over time, this can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and other dental problems,’ Dr Clarke added. ‘In addition to sugar, some flavoured syrups may also contain acids that can erode your tooth enamel.’
Dr Sam Jethwa, vice president of the British Association for Cosmetic Dentistry, described adding syrups and powders flavoured with sugar, corn syrup or citric acid as a ‘sure-fire recipe for damaging teeth’.
Dr Jethwa, who owns clinic Bespoke Smilke, added: ‘Colourings in products such as these can also have a staining effect on teeth which can cause long term discolouration.’
And aspartame — an artificial sweetener commonly found in some ‘zero sugar’ flavour sachets — has also been linked to behavioural and cognitive problems, according to a 2017 study by scientists in Malaysia.
Experts have also linked aspartame to a host of health problems over the years, including increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The sweetener is also found in many of the UK’s best-loved squash brands. It is estimated that squash is drank regularly by more than 9million Brits.
And Dr Caitlin Hall, chief dietitian and head of clinical research at gut-health supplement brand myota, expressed concerns about the impact of sweeteners on your gut’s microbiome — the bacteria, fungi and viruses that naturally live there.
While flavourings can add a delicious twist to water, dentist Dr Alan Clarke, clinical director of Belfast-based practice Paste Dental, warned of the potential dental health impacts
Dr Sam Jethwa, vice president of the British Association for Cosmetic Dentistry, described adding syrups and powders flavoured with sugar, corn syrup or citric acid as a ‘sure-fire recipe for damaging teeth’ (Pictured is a skittles powder sachet turning water bright blue)
In this TikTok, the influencer described a Kool Aid Tropical Punch sachet as ‘unsweetened’ but these have artificial flavourings
She said: ‘Frequent consumption of artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame) can increase risk of heart and circulatory diseases.
‘What’s more, these chemicals can have a highly damaging effect on the delicate gut microbiome.’
Dr Hall said disrupting the good bacteria in the gut can result in bloating, discomfort, weight gain and an increased risk of chronic disease and depression.
She recommends only consuming sugary and artificially sweetened drinks very occasionally and instead option for natural beverage alternatives such as no added sugar kombucha, unsweetened herbal tea or coconut water.
And while hugely popular in the UK, many of the ingredients found in these sachets are also present in squash.
However dental expert Dr Clarke stressed there are ways to enjoy flavoured water while minimising the risk to your teeth.
Here are Dr Clarke’s tips for how you can have a flavoursome beverage without sacrificing your dental health:
Dietitian Dr Caitlin Hall’s healthy flavoured water alternatives you can make at home
- Ice water with fresh cucumber slices and crushed mint leaves
- Cold-brewed ginger tea sweetened with a few drops of honey
- Ice water infused with sliced strawberries, basil leaves and lemon slices
Limit your intake
‘While flavoured syrups can add a delicious flavour to your water, it’s important to use them in moderation,’ the dental expert says.
Too much sugar can have a negative impact on your teeth, so you should try to limit your intake of sugary syrups.
You should also consider using a smaller amount of syrup or diluting it with more water.
Use a straw
Drinking through a straw can help minimise the contact between sugary syrups and your teeth.
This is because the straw directs the liquid to the back of your mouth.
And Dr Clarke says this reduces the amount of time it spends in contact with your teeth.
Rinse your mouth
After consuming flavoured syrup, Dr Clarke recommends rinsing your mouth with water.
He says this can help wash away any excess sugar and acids, as acid can wear away enamel.
Rinsing with water also helps reduce their impact on your teeth because the water can dilute the acid.
Brush and floss regularly
Brushing and flossing regularly can help remove plaque and food particles from your teeth.
Dr Clarke says this can reduce the risk of tooth decay and cavities.
And he urges you make sure to brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time, and floss at least once a day.
Visit your dentist
Regular dental check-ups can help catch any dental problems early, Dr Clarke says.
And catching things early means they can be treated before becoming more serious.
Dr Clarke says you should visit your dentist at least twice a year for a cleaning and exam.