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Why apple cider vinegar might be wrecking your teeth—and what to do about it


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Photo: Unsplash/Allef Vinicius
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A shot of apple cider vinegar a day will keep the doctor away, right? ACV devotees like Hilary Duff and Gabby Douglas seem to think so—but when it comes to keeping the dentist away, that’s another story.

While the fermented stuff is credited with everything from regulating digestion to clearing up colds (and is showing up in uber-trendy drinks across the country), drinking it the wrong way can actually do irreversible harm to some very important parts of your body: your teeth.

“There’s a lot of good stuff in apple cider vinegar, but it’s also very acidic,” explains Jack Ringer, DDS, a cosmetic dentist based in Anaheim, CA. “And we know in the dental world that when acids touch the teeth for a prolonged time, it can be disastrous—they erode tooth enamel, and we don’t get that enamel back.”

In the short term, says Dr. Ringer, loss of enamel can lead to darkening of the teeth and increased sensitivity; if left unchecked, those with serious erosion issues generally have to get restorative work done on their not-so-pearly whites.

But that doesn’t mean you have to ditch ACV for good. (Cue a big sigh of relief.) Read on for the precautions to take, pre- and post-swig.

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Photo: Stocksnap/Annie Spratt
Photo: Stocksnap/Annie Spratt

Dr. Ringer says that if you take these steps, all recommended by the dental community, your precious enamel should stay intact:

  • Dilute the apple cider vinegar shot in another liquid—preferably water.
  • Drink it through a straw so the vinegar doesn’t make contact with your teeth.
  • Don’t swish the vinegar around in your mouth.
  • Rinse your mouth out with water after you drink the vinegar.
  • Don’t brush your teeth immediately after drinking ACV.
  • Don’t eat or drink other acidic things—like orange juice, grapefruit, or tomatoes—immediately after ACV.

Follow these precautions, and you have Dr. Ringer’s blessing to keep your morning routine intact. Gut-friendly shots all around!

Can’t stomach the taste of straight-up apple cider vinegar?  Drinking vinegars or switchel might be more your speed—just don’t forget that straw! Or you could always reap the benefits of ACV by using it on your hair, no dental guidance needed.

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