Fit fanatics like Kourtney Kardashian and Miranda Kerr swear by a daily dose of ACV, but dentists say it may increase cavities and tooth decay.
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Apple cider vinegar has one fit fan club—Miranda Kerr, Gwyneth Paltrow, the Tone It Up girls... and the latest addition, Kourtney Kardashian, who revealed on her app that she, too, sips the stuff twice a day.
Most ACV addicts say the tonic helps improve digestion and gut health. And in fact, some studies do suggest that drinking the vinegar every day can help with digestion, weight loss, protecting your heart, balancing your pH levels, even banishing bad breath. (Related: 7 Health Benefits of Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar)
But a daily ACV habit might also be doing some serious damage to your teeth, says Mazen Natour, D.M.D., a Manhattan-based dentist and prosthodontist.
"Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body—said to be 10 times stronger than bone and the only substance in nature stronger than diamond. That's because its role is to protect your teeth from bacteria. But acid can erode your teeth enamel, and ACV is very acidic," Natour says. (Related: 5 Ways Your Teeth Can Impact Your Health)
Indeed, it's what makes apple cider vinegar so potentially good for your gut—the acidity helps restore alkalinity in the body—that creates a concern as it passes through your mouth, says Jennifer Jablow, D.M.D., a Manhattan-based dentist who works with Ford models and Victoria Secret angels. "Anything with a pH below 5.2 can compromise enamel hardness and quality, allowing bacteria to easily penetrate, leading to decay, root canal issues, and even fractured teeth."
Plus, enamel is what keeps your pearlies white, so daily ACV shots might actually be yellowing your teeth, Natour adds.
Jablow adds that it's not as harmful as some of the worst enamel offenders like soda or fruit juice, since you sip those more slowly, extending the damage. But if you're on the daily dose bandwagon, there are a few precautions you should take to keep your acidic tonic from ruining your teeth:
Shoot it back or sip it with a straw. The longer the acidic molecules linger on your teeth, the more damage is done, Jablow points out. Some prefer to shoot it straight, which is better for your teeth, but harder on your stomach. An alternative: Mix the vinegar into a glass of water (that's how Kourtney does it) and sip through a straw, Natour says.
Chase it with alkaline water. Swish with an alkaline water, like Essentia, which has a pH of at least 9.5, Jablow advises, to help counteract the dip in pH and bring it up back to neutral.
Wait 20 minutes to brush. Immediately after you drink something acidic, your teeth have temporarily softened. Brushing too soon will do more damage and the teeth will be more vulnerable to wearing down, Jablow says.