You’ve probably read about apple cider vinegar (ACV) and its ability to cure a seemingly endless array of ailments—everything from athlete’s foot to upset stomach, and even cancer.

Fact or Fiction

Some clinical studies on apple cider vinegar support claims for promoting weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar. On the other hand, claims that ACV can prevent or reverse tooth decay are misguided. Using liquid ACV as a pre-brush mouthwash is an especially bad idea and here’s why.

Like soda and lemon juice, apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, typically with a pH level of 3.0 or lower. The pH scale runs from 1-14; levels lower than 7 are acidic as opposed to alkalizing. Foods and beverages high in acid strip away protective tooth enamel and hasten permanent tooth erosion.

Apple Cider Vinegar Precautions and Negative Side Effects

Rinsing with concentrated doses of apple cider vinegar will not only damage your teeth but can also cause swelling or burns inside the mouth and esophagus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, other potential risks of long-term use of ACV include:

  • Indigestion
  • Throat irritation
  • Low potassium
  • Disruption of the body’s acid-base balance

Safer Ways to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar and Minimize Tooth Exposure

If apple cider vinegar is already part of your health regimen, you might not have to give it up entirely. Consider these options instead:

  • Dilute ACV in water: Try mixing 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar with 8 ounces of water.
  • Drink it through a straw to avoid direct contact with your teeth.
  • Rinse with water after taking it.
  • Don’t brush right away! To prevent further enamel damage, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth to give your saliva a chance to naturally wash away the acid.
  • Take ACV as a supplement in pill form: These contain a dehydrated form of ACV but the amount can vary from brand to brand. According to a Healthline report, one capsule typically contains about 500 mg, which is equivalent to 2 liquid teaspoons (10 ml). Like its liquid form, these products are not FDA regulated. For the safest options, look for brands tested by a third party such as ConsumerLab.

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