When it comes to a bright, white smile, many people are open to anything. The internet is filled with various at-home whitening tips using household products, such as apple cider vinegar (ACV). While apple cider vinegar has many health benefits and may provide the whitening results you are looking for, it isn’t always safe and can actually damage your teeth without your knowledge. At Soundview Family Dental, we understand the desire to have a beautiful white smile, but we want to help keep your teeth as healthy as possible.
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, starts as simple apple juice. The addition of yeast to apple juice begins a fermenting process that turns the sugar in the apple juice into alcohol which then turns into acetic acid. This makes it a very acidic substance, and this acidity is what gives it the sour taste and strong smell. Apple cider vinegar is often used in cooking and as a preservative in various salad dressings.
But vinegar has a long history for its medicinal benefits dating back to the ancient Greeks and the use of ACV for wound treatment. In recent years, ACV use is promoted for everything — from weight loss and blood sugar regulation to improving your heart or treating dandruff. In the world of dental health, apple cider vinegar is often promoted for tooth whitening.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) and teeth whitening
If you have ever searched for at-home tooth whitening treatments, chances are you have stumbled across apple cider vinegar. But what does it really do to your teeth? As an acidic substance, ACV can effectively remove layers of plaque and stains on the surface of your teeth that contribute to the yellow discoloration. It can also help to kill bacteria in the mouth that can contribute to bad breath and cavities. However, while it may provide these benefits, it also puts your teeth at risk.
Side effects of ACV on teeth
Occasional use of ACV on your teeth may be enough to help whiten your smile, but it also puts your teeth at risk. The highly acidic properties that work to remove the layers of plaque on the teeth can also penetrate and break down the enamel on your teeth, increasing your risk of tooth damage, tooth sensitivity, and tooth loss. Unfortunately, this damage to the enamel is irreversible. In fact, a 2014 study showed that tooth enamel exposure to ACV could result in as much as a 20% loss of enamel. Before you ever consider apple cider vinegar for tooth whitening, talk with your dentist about the pros and cons, as well as good oral hygiene practices and other whitening treatment options that are safer for your teeth.
Proper use of apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar does, however, have various health benefits, such as blood sugar regulation, and as a helpful tool for those looking to lose weight. Unfortunately, while consuming this substance can have benefits, it must be used with precautions because of its acidic nature. Before considering the use of ACV for medical purposes, please consult with your physician as it can have adverse reactions with some medications. It can also contribute to indigestion, throat irritation, low potassium levels, and a disruption to your body’s natural pH balance. In addition, its use can contribute to dental damage.
Ways to consume ACV for tooth safety
If you have talked with your physician and are using apple cider vinegar for its health benefits, these are some things to try to help protect your teeth from damage.
- Drinking the ACV with a straw to reduce contact with your teeth
- Dilute your apple cider vinegar in water. For example, if you are taking one to two tablespoons at a time, consider mixing with eight ounces of water. This still provides the benefits while reducing the direct acidic contact with your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth after consuming ACV to reduce the contact with your teeth.
- DO NOT BRUSH YOUR TEETH IMMEDIATELY. Because ACV is so acidic, it can soften your enamel. Brushing your teeth immediately after consumption can increase your risk of enamel damage. Wait at least 30 minutes and allow your saliva to help wash away the acid.
- Consider taking ACV in pill form. This provides you with the health benefits without any risk of acidic contact to your teeth.
Can apple cider vinegar damage your teeth?
Apple cider vinegar offers various health and dental benefits, but it can cause damage to your tooth enamel. We understand you may still have questions or concerns. If you would like to know more about ACV and the pros and cons of its use, Dr. Eric Kitts is ready to help you. You can contact Soundview Family Dental online or call our office today to set an appointment. We look forward to helping you maintain your beautiful smile and keep your teeth healthy.