Updated: Oct 11, 2019
It is impossible for me to write about lemon juice and its potential harm to teeth without giving a special mention to apple cider vinegar.
After so many decades working as a dentist (almost 3!!!) I inwardly cringe when a patient excitedly tells me that they have started a detox program that includes a daily dose of this 'wonder' liquid.
Many claims have been shared with me about its capacity to cure all sorts of ills. . .
. . . but as a dentist, all I see is its capacity to damage tooth structure, irreversibly.
Hence my inspiration for this blog.
Like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar is very acidic when it is first consumed. This is very harsh on tooth structure and the harm is cumulative if you do not take steps to care for your teeth.
For people who are interested in scientific detail, the pH of apple cider vinegar (whether it contains the 'mother' or not) is between 2 and 3, which is strongly acidic. As noted in the lemon juice blog, car battery acid has a pH of 1 and water (which is neutral) has a pH of 7. Adding water makes it less acidic, but it will still be acidic enough to do harm.
The effects of consuming apple cider vinegar can be serious. They include:
Partial to complete loss of tooth enamel,
Darkening of tooth colour as the enamel thins,
Damage at the edges of fillings and crowns.
Using it as a mouthwash is even worse.
Why does damage occur?
Teeth are made of calcium-based minerals. They are very susceptible to erosion by acids.
Tooth structure is made once. The body can never produce more.
Vinegar is acetic acid – saliva is pushed beyond its capacity to protect us from this acid, especially when it is used neat. Swishing it around the mouth magnifies the harm to an incredible extent.
Apple cider vinegar can do a great of harm to tooth structure. I have seen all of the enamel eroded from teeth, and once to his happens it is very difficult to repair and restore.
The simplest way to prevent this problem is to avoid apple cider vinegar altogether.
That advice does not always go down very well when people are very enthusiastic about their apple cider vinegar. If you still want to consume it, I advise taking the following steps:
Do not do this first thing in the morning. Drink plain water when you first get up and allow your saliva glands wake up before you drink vinegar.
Use a straw and be careful to keep the vinegar off your teeth.
Drink plain water afterwards.
DO NOT brush your teeth straight away. Wait at least 20 minutes before brushing to let the tooth surfaces recover.
Reduce the number of days you drink apple cider vinegar. Give your teeth a break.
. . . Remember that every step you take for your health must take your whole body into consideration. Never leave your teeth and mouth out of the equation.