Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy that is used for a variety of reasons.
Some may suggest you take it for weight loss, others may tell you it works wonders for teeth whitening.
ACV is indeed a folk remedy that has been in use for centuries.
However, people may neglect its effect and harm on teeth while recommending it to you.
Furthermore, it also poses some side effects and risks for your overall health and physical wellbeing.
This article will discuss its effects on teeth, oral health and overall health so that you can decide if you should continue using it.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) basically forms when apple juice is mixed with yeast to undergo fermentation.
However, it is fermented twice and not once.
It goes through two steps.
First yeast converts the sugars in apple juice to alcohol and then cider.
Next, bacteria work on the alcohol converting it into acetic acid.
The final product attains a pH of 2.5 to 3.0.
This is highly acidic, hence you may hear people recommending that you should dilute ACV before use.
Even if you dilute it with water that has a pH of 7.0, it will still be quite acidic.
This will work similarly to acidic foods in harming your tooth enamel and leading to decay and cavities.
Though it is popularly used in salad dressings, it is unsure if it can be part of a healthy diet.
You may hear of people recommending ACV daily to lose weight or as a mouthwash.
Do not do that as it can significantly harm your oral health and the condition of your teeth.
Want to know how? Let’s discuss that below!
How Apple Cider Vinegar Harms Teeth?
ACV contains acetic acid and malic acid.
Acids are not that great for your teeth to begin with.
All acids act on your teeth, in the same way, diluting the calcified enamel.
A 2014 study (medically reviewed) showed how soaking teeth in vinegar can result in a loss of minerals.
Since calcium is an essential mineral in maintaining the strength of the enamel, its erosion makes the tooth enamel susceptible to attack.
Your enamel is a hard substance that protects the inner layer of your tooth from plaque, bacteria and hot and cold temperatures.
If your enamel is intact then it protects you from:
However, if it erodes then it cannot even regenerate as it does not contain living cells.
So when you consume ACV, you run a risk of enamel erosion.
The acids in ACV can dissolve the minerals in your enamel, wearing it down.
What comes next is sensitivity, decay and staining.
The bacteria and plaque inside your mouth stick to your teeth with weak enamel.
Bacteria also feed on more stuck food debris to produce acids.
This happens to gradually decay your teeth.
You may not realize this damage unless you get sensitive teeth and feel toothache while eating and drinking.
However, by that time the decay worsens to form a cavity and holes inside your teeth.
It will be too late by then and you will require tooth fillings.
Though undiluted ACV poses a greater risk of enamel erosion than diluted one.
You are more susceptible to it if you drink undiluted ACV daily.
Besides weight loss and detoxification, ACV is also a popular remedy for teeth whitening.
Though it is an effective one? Learn about that below!
Does ACV Whiten Teeth?
One popular use of ACV is as a mouthwash to whiten teeth though in a small amount and diluted form.
You can mix 2 teaspoons of ACV with 6 ounces of water to dilute it.
Swish this mouthwash inside your mouth and then brush your teeth.
Furthermore, there are other ways to use it undiluted or with baking soda.
A study comparing ACV, white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide noticed that all three had a bleaching effect on teeth.
Though, it is equally important to keep in mind that they have a detrimental effect on the hardness of the enamel and its surface.
Therefore, if the enamel erodes because of your regular use of ACV then it will be more susceptible to staining.
Moreover, if the enamel wears down then the dentin will become apparent instead which is darker in color.
Your teeth will look yellower even if ACV has a bleaching effect on tooth color and dental hard tissues.
Hence, the cons and long-term disadvantages of this practice outweigh the short-term benefits.
In-office procedures like Zoom and laser teeth whitening can give you quick and safe results under the supervision of a professional.
Though over-the-counter and at-home kits can also provide you good results though in a longer time span.
However, these treatments do not cause the harm that ACV can.
In fact, they are rather safe to use and will only cause temporary sensitivity.
Whereas ACV can have long-term detrimental effects.
Hence, it is not a better option for teeth whitening in comparison with dental procedures or even at-home kits.
Besides enamel erosion, ACV also poses other health risks to your entire health.
And what are these? Know more on that below!
ACV Side Effects and Risks
Decreased Potassium Levels
One of the greatest risks of ACV is reducing potassium levels in your body to an extremely low level.
The lowering of potassium levels is known as hypokalemia.
If mild levels of potassium drop then it does not cause any physical symptoms.
Though, that is not the case for a severe drop in potassium in the body as that can lead to muscle problems, heart and breathing issues, muscle weakness for even paralysis.
If you take ACV with diuretics then it can further lower the level of potassium in your body to dangerous levels.
ACV is highly recommended for weight loss because it slows down the rate at which food leaves the stomach.
Therefore, you feel rather feel satiated than hungry as there is still food in your stomach.
This will prevent you from eating more often.
Though, it can actually lead to several gastrointestinal problems.
You can feel nauseous and have indigestion by taking it.
Furthermore, the acid in ACV can increase acid reflux.
Acid reflux can again damage your teeth and harm your oral health.
Dangerous for Diabetics
ACV can alter the way your body regulates its blood sugar levels.
Moreover, taking insulin injections or stimulants helps maintain your blood sugar levels.
Though ACV interferes with that.
Thereby, it can lower your potassium levels alongside blood sugar levels.
In fact, any vinegar has a similar effect on your blood sugar.
If you suffer from diabetes then you should take special precautions to avoid using vinegar.
Though a small study suggests that it can also reduce insulin and triglyceride levels after a meal so it’s useful to control diabetes.
Consult your doctor before using it because it can also be risky for heart disease and blood pressure patients.
Using it on the skin can cause burns
Another popular use of ACV is for treating acne.
However, it is very acidic, thus applying it directly to your skin will harm more than benefit.
Undiluted ACV will cause skin burns and irritation.
The damage can turn worse if you use it on your moles and can cause chemical burns instead.
Therefore, you should be careful when you use ACV.
In fact, it is better to not use it on the skin at all.
Besides burning on the skin, it can also cause burning inside your throat and oral cavity if you ingest it.
Consuming undiluted ACV regularly will cause swelling in your oral cavity becoming harmful for you to use.
Even if it is better to not use ACV for your oral health, you can still use it more responsibly.
Safely Using Apple Cider Vinegar
If you really want to use ACV then follow these steps:
- Dilute one part of vinegar with 5 parts of water. Never use undiluted vinegar as it is definitely not good for your oral and overall health.
- Do not consume it regularly. Limit the quantity and frequency of consuming it.
- Similarly, do not leave it on the skin for a long time. You should wash your skin soon enough if it comes in contact with vinegar.
- Avoid contact with your teeth. Do so by never drinking straight from the bottle to reduce the effect of apple cider vinegar.
- You can also use a straw to limit the amount that comes in contact with your teeth’ surface.
- Furthermore, you can take ACV tablets or in the form of a pill. These are most effective in limiting contact with your teeth and oral cavity and provide health benefits.
You can reap the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar if you limit its amount to 15 millimeters per day.
That is a safe to use amount which may not cause as much damage.
However, if you suffer from diabetes, hypokalemia or gastrointestinal issues then you should consult your doctor before you try it.
There is not much evidence proving the effectiveness of ACV on whitening teeth.
Though, it does have a bleaching effect it is still not as beneficial as the cons of using it.
If you want to use apple cider vinegar, use it responsibly.
Overuse of ACV can affect your oral health, your skin and your overall health.
Therefore, if you bought a bottle to whiten teeth, put it aside for now and maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing.