Is Apple Cider Vinegar Bad for Your Teeth? How to Use It Safely

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This article is reviewed by a team of registered dietitians and medical doctors with extensive, practical clinical and public health experience.

 

Emma

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

apple cider vinegar bad for teeth

Apple cider vinegar is the commercial byproduct of fermented apple juice. You can read a ton online about the health benefits of undiluted apple cider vinegar, many of them related to gut health, haircare, and its use as an all-natural cleaning agent, among others.

The acetic acid in fermented apple cider vinegar makes it strong enough to power through many problems. Are surface stains on tooth enamel fair game? Can drinking apple cider vinegar damage tooth enamel, just like other acidic foods and drinks?

When it comes to your oral health, we advise you to err on the side of caution. Do these claims of dental erosion have any merit, though? Drinking apple cider vinegar can do a lot for you, but what can it do for your teeth?

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Whiten Your Teeth?

In this in vitro animal[1] analyzing four different bleaching agents and their effects on bovine tooth blocks, researchers concluded that white vinegar, apple vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide all had a significant bleaching effect over deionized water.

They actually found that white vinegar produced the strongest effect, however, not apple cider vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. It’s worth noting that the impact is described as corrosive damage, not as a friendly tooth-whitening effect – the hardness and the surface configuration of the bovine teeth studied suffered. Does the average pH of apple cider vinegar cause more harm than good to human teeth, too?

This group is not alone—many peer-reviewed studies attest to apple cider vinegar’s ability to weaken tooth enamel, just like soft drinks and other acids. 

Can drinking apple cider vinegar cause adverse health conditions like tooth decay, tooth damage, and tooth loss later on down the line? The risk might outweigh the benefits. Here’s what you should know before giving it a try.

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Damage Your Teeth?

Another study[2], this one conducted by the international journal Clinical Laboratory on human wisdom teeth samples, demonstrated vinegar’s ability to erode the outside of the teeth and rob it of calcium oxide at depths of up to 60 microns.

While apple cider vinegar was not included in this study, it does speak to the impact of acidic compounds on teeth in an immersive, contained setting. When you consider the fact that apple cider vinegar is usually exceeded only by white distilled vinegar in terms of acid content, it’s easy to see how an apple cider vinegar rinse might be able to cause a similar type of enamel damage.

With that being said, you’ll find a lot of evidence concerning apple cider vinegar specifically in this area, often used[3] as a supplement to lose weight. The best way to protect your teeth is to avoid prolonged, undiluted exposure to apple cider vinegar, just as you would with coffee, soda, or any other highly-acidic food or beverage.

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar Safely

We can’t advise the use of apple cider vinegar as a neutral solution to whiten teeth, especially if you already struggle with tooth sensitivity. There are, however, still a ton of ways that you can take advantage of the various health benefits of apple cider vinegar and other acidic fruit juices:

  • As a hot or cold tonic—one or two tablespoons diluted in fresh, filtered, distilled water can be sweetened for an extremely refreshing detox beverage
  • Apple cider vinegar is great in salad dressings, its highly-acidic nature pairs gorgeously with healthy fats like avocado and olive oil
  • Apply cider vinegar makes marinating eat easy, the acetic acid penetrating into the inner layers of the cut, delivering big-time flavor throughout
  • For a home remedy for cleaner hair, you can use a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar as a clarifying hair rinse
  • You can also use diluted apple cider vinegar to tone your skin with a natural buffer, but to avoid its most damaging effects, be sure to spot test on a small patch of skin in order to find your ideal dilution ratio
  • Apple cider vinegar makes the perfect chemical-free cleaning agent, reducing the risk that your routine poses to your family

Can apple cider vinegar be used to freshen your breath? Perhaps, but the effect might come at a cost. According to this inquiry, exposing the bacteria in your mouth to newly-elevated pH levels may actually help them adapt to thrive[4] in an acidic environment.

Does this mean that you should avoid apple cider vinegar altogether? The answers might not always be clear or straightforward, but the general consensus is that moderate apple cider vinegar consumption will usually bring with it more benefits than risks. 

Drinking it straight from the bottle might not be advisable, nor is using it for teeth whitening, but any of the home remedies above are generally considered safe for anybody or any household.

The Bottom Line: Is Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar Good for Teeth Whitening?

Drinking apple cider vinegar damages the surface of your teeth, which may lead to tooth decay and even tooth loss over time. There are so many ways to use this apple juice byproduct responsibly and safely, however.

Teeth whitening is not one of them, but that doesn’t mean you should discount all the other health benefits that it has to offer outside of your tooth enamel.


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Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Zheng (2014). [Effects of vinegar on tooth bleaching and dental hard tissues in vitro]. Sichuan da xue xue bao. Yi xue ban = Journal of Sichuan University. Medical science edition, [online] 45(6). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25571718/.
  2. ‌Willershausen, I., Weyer, V., Schulte, D., Lampe, F., Buhre, S. and Willershausen, B. (2014). In Vitro Study on Dental Erosion Caused by Different Vinegar Varieties Using an Electron Microprobe. Clinical Laboratory, [online] 60(05/2014). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24839821/.
  3. ‌Gambon, D.L. (2012). Ongezond afslanken. Erosie door appelazijn. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Tandheelkunde, [online] 119(12), pp.589–591. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23373303/.
  4. ‌Svensäter, G., Larsson, U.-B. ., Greif, E.C.G., Cvitkovitch, D.G. and Hamilton, I.R. (1997). Acid tolerance response and survival by oral bacteria. Oral Microbiology and Immunology, [online] 12(5), pp.266–273. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9467379/.
Emma

Medically reviewed by:

Emma Garofalo is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. A lover of science, art, and all things culinary, few things excite her more than the opportunity to learn about something new." It is now in the sheet in the onboarding paperwork, apologies!!

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