What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Do For Your Teeth?
Apple cider vinegar has been touted as a cure-all for everything from heartburn to acne. While there aren’t a ton of studies to support many of the claims, the home remedy is still incredibly popular. Recently, there have been articles and blog posts about the benefits of apple cider vinegar for oral health. Recommendations include drinking a glass of it a day, using it as mouthwash and even rubbing it directly on the teeth to make them whiter. But, before you jump on the apple cider vinegar bandwagon, get the facts from our Naperville general dentists.
What are the Supposed Benefits of Apple
Cider Vinegar for Oral Health?
There are claims of what does apple cider vinegar do for your teeth as a mouthwash is that it can kill the bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease, and the potassium in the vinegar can help to strengthen teeth. Yet, the most popular application is using apple cider vinegar for teeth whitening. Some suggest brushing it directly on the teeth, while others say to mix it with baking soda.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Bad For Your Teeth?
Apple cider vinegar is acidic. It typically has a pH between 2.5 and 3. For reference, distilled water, which is neutral, has a pH of 7. Any type of acid, including the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar, can erode tooth enamel. So, yes, drinking or swishing with large quantities of apple cider vinegar is bad for your teeth.
When the enamel breaks down, it leads to sensitivity and puts you at a higher risk for tooth decay. Eventually, as the underlying dentin is exposed, your teeth will also look yellow.
A 2014 study examined the erosive effects of different types of vinegar on tooth enamel. The researchers found that between 1% and 20% of the minerals in the enamel were lost when the enamel was soaked in various kinds of vinegar for four hours. While the study did demonstrate that vinegar eroded teeth, it didn’t account for factors like the impact of saliva on the process, so more research is needed to understand the full extent of damage.
A 2012 case study of a 15-year-old girl whose enamel was significantly eroded found that the erosion was due to the daily glass of apple cider vinegar she drank for weight loss.
There are no conclusive studies on whether apple cider vinegar is more effective at killing cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth than any other remedies.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Make Teeth Whiter?
Studies, including one published in 2014, found that apple cider vinegar does make teeth whiter. However, though it has a minor bleaching effect, it can also damage the hardness of the enamel.
The American Dental Association has weighed in on the topic. Their stance? Don’t whiten your teeth with apple cider vinegar, because the prolonged contact can wear away enamel.
The minimal results that you’d get aren’t worth the risk. You’d achieve safer, much more dramatic results with a professional teeth whitening treatment at your dentist’s office.
How to Protect Your Teeth From Apple Cider Vinegar
While large amounts of apple cider vinegar can damage your teeth, you don’t have to forgo it all altogether. Here’s how to protect your teeth from apple cider vinegar:
- Dilute the vinegar with water. If you’re drinking it for health purposes, use five parts water for every one part apple cider vinegar.
- Enjoy it in moderation. Putting it on a salad or having the occasional diluted glass of it is fine for most people’s teeth.
- Never use apple cider vinegar as a mouthwash or drink it straight from the bottle.
- Consider switching to a supplement. Some companies sell apple cider vinegar in pill form, allowing you to get the benefits without it coming into contact with your teeth.
- If you have apple cider vinegar (or anything acidic), wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. If you brush your teeth immediately, you can damage your enamel while it’s temporarily weakened from the acidity.
- After eating or drinking something with apple cider vinegar in it, rinse your mouth out really well with water. This will reduce the amount of vinegar that sits on your enamel.
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss once daily. When your enamel is strong, you’ll be less vulnerable to the effects of apple cider vinegar on your teeth.
Schedule a Visit With a General or Cosmetic Dentist in Naperville, IL
If you have oral health concerns or want to get whiter teeth, schedule a visit with a general or cosmetic dentist at Naperville Dental Specialists. We can give you personalized recommendations to improve your oral health or whiten your teeth in a way that’s safe and effective.