The Dark Side of the Apple: What Drinking Vinegar Means for Your Mouth

Author: Dylan McCarthy
Dylan McCarthy

Dylan McCarthy

Dylan McCarthy is the lead editor at The Dental Geek. He grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, and graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in English. In his free time Dylan enjoys writing novels and short stories, body surfing and playing the air guitar while listening to music. Follow him on Twitter @ItsTheDMc.
02.27.15 / 1:58 pm

Alternative medicine is everywhere: acupuncture, herbal treatments, Reiki, electromagnetic therapy, Qigong and many more. I have, at best, a tenuous grasp on all of these practices. However, the use of apple cider vinegar as a “cure-all” beverage has been so prominent over the past six years that I couldn’t help but do some research on it.

I don’t use the term “cure-all” lightly, there have been some hefty claims about what apple cider vinegar can do for your health. Proponents of apple cider vinegar have said it can cure arthritis, cancer, head lice, poison oak, gout, tooth decay, high cholesterol, warts, athlete’s foot, acid reflux, diabetes and urinary tract infections. I enjoy a probiotic Kombucha every now and then, and love vinegar-infused foods, but I’m in it for the taste, not for the chance at these near-magical health benefits. There’s a longstanding debate regarding the actual benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar, but I’m here to dispel the myth that it cures tooth decay.

There are plenty of articles online that instruct you to use apple cider vinegar as a pre-brush mouthwash. These articles say by gargling and swishing the apple cider vinegar before you brush your teeth, you can help whiten your teeth and fight against tooth decay. The truth is this is the last thing you should do to promote oral health.

The danger apple cider vinegar poses to your teeth and gums comes from its high acidity. Braggs, the most popular brand of unfiltered and organic apple cider vinegar, clocks in with a pH level of 2.85. To put that in perspective, the pH scale runs from 1-14, any pH level lower than 7 is considered acidic. This puts apple cider vinegar above soda, about on par with lemon juice, and just under stomach acid and battery acid in terms of acidity.

Anything highly acidic like soda, grapefruit juice or apple cider vinegar that comes in contact with your teeth will wear down the protective enamel on them, leaving you far more likely to get a cavity. Simply drinking apple cider vinegar leaves your teeth in a dangerous position, but treating it like mouthwash and intentionally washing the vinegar over all of your teeth is even worse.

If you brush your teeth after using apple cider vinegar like mouthwash that will take the damage to an even greater level. Research done by the Mayo Clinic has shown that if you’ve consumed anything acidic to wait at least a half hour before brushing your teeth because of the weakened state of your enamel. Doing so before that will remove even more enamel. Regardless of the fluoride content in the toothpaste you’re using, the physical brushing against your teeth will do more harm than good if you don’t wait a little bit after eating or drinking.

If you still want to test out the potential healing qualities of apple cider vinegar, go for it. I haven’t done extensive testing on whether or not it cures a lot of the things people claim it does, but just know that it’s not going to fight tooth decay. If you do drink apple cider vinegar, dilute it in a tall glass of water for your mouth’s sake.

Dylan McCarthy

Dylan McCarthy

Dylan McCarthy is the lead editor at The Dental Geek. He grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, and graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in English. In his free time Dylan enjoys writing novels and short stories, body surfing and playing the air guitar while listening to music. Follow him on Twitter @ItsTheDMc.

78 responses to “The Dark Side of the Apple: What Drinking Vinegar Means for Your Mouth”

  1. I think the safe way to consume apple cider vinegar is to dilute it. 2 teaspoons of vinegar and about 10 ounces of water is safe other wise you run the risk of losing the enamel on your teeth.

    • So you mean to say that if I dilute the apple vinegar n use it on my teeth then it’ll b fine?

    • Its in the bible how vinegar is bad for your teeth. Proverbs 10:26 “As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him”.

    • For a month (Jan. 2017), I had an intake of this Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar 1 TBSP , with 1 TBSP Honey, as cure for arthritis, uric acid, hyper acidity in the body system w/c caused inflammation, even cancer due to inflammation. I have read of the side effects of this apple cider vinegar, and comes out to be really true, for now I suffer my tooth aches. I do research now on how to combat this weakened tooth enamel and my toothaches. I’ve learned that eggs strengthens our bones and teeth and cures various health problems. I will have eggs now to cure my tooth aches/tooth pains. Now I stopped my intake of the apple cider vinegar, otherwise, i will suffer tremendous tooth aches every now and then, and it affects to all my teeth and it is very painful.

      • Well thats even more acid in the Pineapple, plus the high sugar in pineapple, plus the honey which is pure sugar. Cant think of much MORE harm you can cause your teeth than a solution of corrosive acid plus sugar – so that’s a NO.

  2. Didn’t even know that people drank copious amounts of vinegar until reading this– very weird but useful cautionary post.

  3. Seems like the problem is that everyone beleives everything they have heard. I am pretty sure it doesnt cure all of the ailments but may help in some form of prevention.

  4. What about kombucha? I’m addicted to the stuff but I’m worried that too much acidity is really bad for my teeth and stomach!

  5. I came across this article because I was researching if vinegar can help in reducing mineral deposits on teeth/the gumline (similar to how you would scrub calcium deposits with vinegar around your sink). What about this?

  6. Oh dear, you should have done your research, I’m afraid this is complete disinformation! (i.e. a total inversion of reality). “Raw ACV is the only vinegar that is alkaline-forming to the body. All other vinegars (white, balsamic, red wine, etc) are acid-forming.” (Got that after a 2-second google search as I couldn’t be bothered to write it). Hence its amazing healing properties. I’m using it for pain relief on my wisdom teeth as we speak, and it’s working a treat!

    • “…alkaline-forming to the body.” – what absolute nonsense; in any case, you’re using an acid on your teeth, that’s the point – what difference would it make even if a substance could be “alkaline-forming to the body.”

      • Starskeptic, your name says it all. There is plenty of reasearch on the good that ACV does for the body and one of them is that it changes the PH within the body for a more Acidic PH to Alkaline. Where each persons levels are is of course individual.

        To say it’s aboslute nonesense means you haven’t read many published research papers or read much about it online.

        You are right about one thing. It is acidic going into the body. This means you need to protect the teeth’s enamel or it will errode it. One way to reduce the contact with teeth is to drink it with a straw. Rinse your teeth with water (mixed with or without baking soda) is also a way to help reduce the effects of the acidity on the teeth.

        Always make sure you are diluting the ACV and you can add lemon or Honey to help off set the taste if necessary. Good Luck!!!

    • All I know is my own experience – I had a horrible toothache, my whole mouth was hurting basically, and I immediately went to earth clinic to see if I had anything in the pantry to help the pain. I had Bragg’s ACV and raw honey. So I diluted the ACV and honey a little and swished it around my teeth. That was 30 minutes ago and the toothache is gone and has been for about 15 minutes. I don’t know if it was the drinking it or the swishing it or both, but it worked. Thank God. I think I will just try drinking it without getting it on my teeth next time to see if that works because the enamel thing scares me. Anyway, my 2 cents.

      • I was taking 2 Tablespoons a day straight and used a straw….put the straw all the way to back of mouth and my front tooth & back tooth chipped within a month of using it. It really upsets me bc for 1. I don’t have dental insurance and 2. The ACV was helping with my IBS, psoriasis, acid reflux and even cleared up my acne. Last night I used it like a toner on my face and hoping it will continue to keep acne at bay. Anyone with suggestions on how I can start taking it again with out damaging my teeth even further.

        • You can get capsules at you local supplement shop. Use a clean dropper and drop it in. Get the large capsules and take multiple a day. It’s tedious..but it’ll get the job done. OR do it the old fashioned way, eat salad or pasta with a blend of ACV and EVO to get a daily dose.

      • my sister is a dentist and said that she worked on a woman who normally had good
        teeth and one of the back of her molars was suddenly completely disintegrated
        on the back side. She asked her….what the heck are you drinking. The lady said
        ACV…. additionally my sister told me that Arizona iced tea with sugar is THE most
        acidic thing that dentists have found as a normal drink. I do not consider ACV a normal
        drink although I have tried Braggs before and it is actually kind of tasty….remember
        to dilute! I wonder what Braggs plus olive oil would do to protect (or not) the teeth….

    • I learned in a lab that some weaker acids can have chemical reactions called alkaline(by comparison).However,that is probably after digestion.Also, dilution sometimes makes an acid’s reaction stronger.The acid in vinegar hits the teeth immediately before digestion,and probably has a reaction with the enamel.A chemist would be the one to clear all this up.

      • Not a chemist, but I did take chemistry… And I can’t believe not one person mentioned baking soda.
        Mix any kind of vinegar with baking soda and you get a bubbly mess. That’s the result of the acids and bases neutralizing each other. Just like those science-fair volcanos.
        I used to get sensitive teeth/gums using ACV (always diluted- be more concerned with an esophageal acid burn than some enamel loss) but I haven’t noticed it at all since I started spitting it out quickly and rinsing with baking soda (both with/without water dilution). I asked my dental hygienist and she agreed.
        This is a strictly anecdotal account… but also common sense.

  7. Hi! I am curious to ask you. My family practices alternative health and I drink ACV in a tea daily. Sometiems I brush after, but not often. I almost always drink water after though.
    Anyway, we fill a teacup with hot water, I put two tablespoons of ACV in and one of honey, and it makes a really good tea.
    I am also a really bad nail biter if that makes a difference. Will it damage my teeth?

    • It’s lowered my cholesterol!!!!!! Hoping to lower the blood sugar but not seeing any results in that yet.

    • This is why I use it. I’m in my thirties and already have Barrett’s Esophagus. Because of my reflux, this is the only thing I have found that really helps me- using Bragg’s.

      • Ruth, I too have had acid reflux for almost 30 years. I have been on Prilosec for the last ten years. This year I had to get off the Prilosec and my stomach crashed horribly. Thanks to some reseach I started using Culturelle probiotics and in 30 days I have had no acid reflux and no symptoms at all. Thought I would pass this along to you.

    • About half of my mouth is very very very sore. It’s hard to see my gums well but appear very red. I read swishing a tablespoon of brags raw apple cider vinegar in my mouth would cure an abses tooth. The first time I did it it worked great but a month later when I did it about 3/4 of my gums are very painful and inflamed . Started using antibiotics and oral gel yesterday but today no change. Getting tooth pulled in a couple weeks after gums are better. The internet is what got me in this trouble so as we’ve all heard don’t believe everything you hear on the internet.

  8. I have been taking 2 teaspoons of apple cider daily for almost a year now and I use it more as a preventive. My kids have been sick probably 15 time through out this time and I have been sick one time and I upped the dose to three times a day and it went away within hours although as of a couple weeks ago my teeth have become so sensitive I can barely eat. Win, loose. I’m thinking about buying capsules to put it on to bypass it hitting your teeth.

  9. Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  10. I believe it becomes alkaline inside your body…
    Perhaps when it is only predigested in our mouth
    It still acidic … I am a dentist and just guessing…
    I recommend it to my patients to take internally
    In clear caps but not directly in the mouth..
    There are other remineralizing agents for that!!!

    • Since you are a dentist would you mind telling me if an antibiotic is going to resolve the painful sores I have in my mouth after swishing a tablespoon of Briggs raw apple cider vinegar in my mouth. I read on the internet it would make an abses go away and it did a month ago. I started having trouble again and used the apple cider vinegar again but now I have a very very painful mouth. Started on amoxicillin yesterday and using oral gel but too soon for relief yet. I did call my dentist a month ago when I first had the abses but they didn’t call me back and in the meantime read about swishing a tablespoon of Bragg raw apple cider vinegar in your mouth for an abses. It did actually work but this time it backfired on me. I would just like to know if these antibiotics should help. I would appreciate hearing from you.

  11. I have recently gotten obsessed with drinking kombucha lately and I’ve been wondering about the effects it will have on my teeth! I did get a cavity recently but who knows of the two are related.

  12. There have been some recent posts/videos on regarding the effects of vinegar and apple cider vinegar on blood sugar, weight loss, and arterial health. These are based on the actual studies recently done. Definitely worth your time. Also, after drinking ACV, consider rinsing your mouth with sea salt water to alkalize it and get the acid out. I personally try to shoot the ACV down with a little water so as to have minimal contact with the teeth, kind of like taking a shot of liquor from a shot glass. Takes a little getting used to, but is a very efficient method.

  13. Really? Some one can put undeluted ACV in the mouth? Because this is what the article about.. although if you delute ACV with water we have absolutely different story, so any one who reads this should be aware of that

  14. I started drinking 1-2 tsps Bragg’s AC vinegar with raw organic honey every morning and it did wonders for my digestion for the past month. I even rinsed with warm water afterwards but I have already developed terrible sensitivity to my teeth and I do brush with Sensodyne toothpaste regularly. Is there such a thing as teeth guards to wear while drinking the ACV? I’ve Googled but have had no luck.

    • I would simply dilute it. I’ve had your same issue, as I’ve been taking it for years now. I wouldn’t boil the water, just get it warm. Two teaspoons in a normal size glass works fine, with your raw honey: perfect.

      • Wow that’s genius. I’ve been having this same problem and never even thought of this. Such a simple solution thank you!

    • Using ACV for 1 month but now I am suffering pain in my teeth. ACV works to dampen my appetite but I will dilute it and keep it away from my teeth. I’ll try the sea salt, too. Thanks for all the input.

    • I took 1tablespoon of avc now my bottom teeth are sore got to see the Hygienist.I hope it didn’t do anything to the enamel on my teeth.

  15. The reason I googled this and found this thread is because.I started drinking 2 tsps of ACV about a week ago and today I was feeling like my teeth were extraordinarily smooth.
    So now I find out why…great. Bummer.

  16. In the beginning the article was interesting, then I see all he has is a degree in English, he is just a simple writer……how would he know anything about dentistry without any type of Medical Degree, and or a Practice.

    • Maybe he isnt in dentistry and doesnt have a degree but does any parent need a degree in child care to be good parents? No they do not. Having seen my dentist two days ago, she was very adamant when she told me to stay away from ACV. Explaining all that was stated in his passage.

  17. I’ll have to add my 2 cents here, which is all replies are, generally. And by doing this I’m going complicate the matter. I wouldn’t say it’s a “cure all,” but it is very useful. I’ve been using ACV for years now for energy as I suffer from fatigue when I don’t. I wouldn’t argue that it’s “healing” anything, but I can absolutely feel a difference when I use it. From my understanding – which isn’t very “scientific,” which none of the above replies that I’ve read, nor the article itself, is anyhow – is: It’s very alkaline once it get’s in our bodies, and helps digest our food with more “efficiency.” Though, it is indeed acidic, obviously, outside of our bodies, and, importantly, it’s still very acidic when in our mouths. I have seen a slow deterioration in my enamel since using it. Though I’m 32 and haven’t had any cavities. So, I would definitely suggest trying it for issues of energy, and even weight-loss, always taking it right before (seconds) you eat. And I definitely dilute it at this point in my life. Two teaspoons in a glass of warm water with a little honey works fine. I’m of the belief that if you eat good, real food (and every ‘merican has a different opinion on what this is) right after taking it, the food helps your teeth out by re-coating them with minerals etc.

  18. OK, I’m a dental hygienist who likes to use natural remedies whenever possible. I just did my own experiment with pH strips. White vinegar and Spectrum apple cider vinegar both tested acidic at 4. However, 20 seconds after ingesting 1 tsp, my saliva measured at 7.4, 30 seconds later at 7.6, 3 minutes at 7.6. I had to switch to a different kind of strip because I ran out of the others, but after 25 minutes my saliva is still testing at pH7. I just wouldn’t recommend brushing your teeth for at least 20 seconds after ingesting it.

  19. I had a sebaceous cyst on my scalp. I read that apple cider vinegar was good for that. I gave it a try. I soaked a thick bounty paper towel with Apple Cider vinegar and scrubbed the cyst in the shower. Immediately I felt stinging–but good stinging like you are cleaning a cut. I did this in the shower for a few days, sometimes twice a day, and it dried up and became a scab I picked off. No more cyst.

    Now using it as a mouth rinse sounds risky. I’m not convinced it is safe yet. Ingesting it, I think is okay if you dilute it.

    I highly doubt anyone is guzzling apple cider vinegar. I always liked vinegar and a small swig of apple cider vinegar out of the bottle gives me goose bumps and makes me shiver. I can down more whiskey straight than apple cider vinegar.

    I think it burns fat and lowers blood sugar. If you disagree that is fine. My advice is dilute the stuff first.

  20. well.what about eating with it?
    lots of time i make reductions or other sauces and i deglaze the pan with balsamic or acv…
    when i add that sauce to food …im killing my teeth?
    i also add it a variety of dishes im the cooking process and make aoli with it..
    so any of these food items where acv or some vinegar was added will destroy my teeth?

  21. i just ate some chicken with a sauce that had acv in it..i just came across this article afterwards..
    please tell me what to do so i dont kill my teeth..

  22. I have been using apple cider vinegar and it is incredibly helpful for moving lymph. However also working on healing teeth and want to make sure it doesn’t hurt my teeth. I think I am going to dilute it, get straws, and also swish my mouth with baking soda water afterwards to alkalize.

  23. I v been drinking acv for about 5days and already have two small mouth ulcers and sensitive teeth … I thought my teeth became sensitive because I am drinking it like a tea .. But now I see by everybodies post it’s the acv … I have drank it before and my eyes used to water for no reason … Now I also feel shooting pains in my ear .. But I always feel energetic and motivated when drinking acv and my face looks clear and I lose my appetite for over eating and sugary food … I guess I will drink with a straw and and drink more water throughout the day ..

  24. I’m sure there is truth in this, I have been addicted to drinking ACV in water throughout the day, and my last two dentist visits revealed a mouth full of cavities!

  25. 1) What about diluting a small amount of ACV in a glass of water and drinking through a glass straw?

    2) It might make sense to brush teeth before ACV as well as a bit more protection. Would this provide a slight barrier?

  26. I was swishing apple cider vinegar in raw form because I heard it was good for me and then I would brush my teeth and use a mouth wash because my younger years I didn’t have the best oral hygiene and I really thought it may improve it and now it is worse my gums are deteriorating and have actual holes in them under the teeth and a little below them along with the fact they are loose and I will need a debridement and my cavities are worse then before I should never have followed what I read now I don’t have dental insurance and have to wait till whenever I can get it dumb mistake on my part I guess

  27. Everything in moderation.

    Use only once a day:
    Mix 1 tsp. ACV with 8 oz. of water… you may add honey for taste. Use a straw to lessen the amount of acid that may form on the teeth and gums. Immediately rinse mouth with mixture of 8 oz. of warm water with 1/2 tsp. of sea salt to deglaze the teeth and gums of the ACV.

    Drink lots of water throughout the day… 8-10 glasses. Limit amounts of soft drinks and other acidic food and drink that damage enamel.

  28. Had a bad stomach acid,also mouth acid was hurting my gums and teeth every night for a year.Start drinking raw ACV diluted with water every morning for past 7 years.Have not had a stomach problem since then and not a single tooth problem.Dentists been sending me home without treating (nothing to treat)with big shock at my age of 41 got perfect teeth.And also I do not get colds and flu.Thanks to rawACV!!

  29. I know this article is TRUE from personal experience. I started drinking 3 table spoons of Braggs ACV in 10 ounces of water for my morning tonic and candida cleanse. I noticed my teeth feeling weaker after a couple weeks. I could just “feel” the weakening. I’m very in tune with my body. So I started drinking with a straw and making sure not to swish the liquid in mouth at all and voila! My teeth re-strengthened and I still get the awesome positive effects of ACV for my insides.

  30. I just use baking soda with the ACV and water mixture to bring the acid level down and make the mix an alkaline liquid.

  31. I started drinking a tablespoon of Braggs ACV in 8-10 ounces of water first thing in the morning., before coffee and breakfast. I did it to help lower my chloresteral before my Fall physical., so I wouldn’t need to take any meds. It didnt lower it but as I was only on it a month before my blood work was taken, I may not have given it a chance. Now that Ive been on it for close to 5 months perhaps the next blood work will reflect a difference. However, the most amazing thing for me was that after only a month on this tonic, I no longer had the leg cramps I had had almost every night for decades! No where have I heard of ACV affecting cramps or blood circulation. Interestingly, I stopped for a week when traveling and ran out of vinegar—- after several days I woke up with a leg cramp and I have not stopped drinking it since!. Can anyone comment on this?

  32. Hey guys..plz help me out what should i do.. i have started drinkig brags acv 5 days ago 1st thing in thr morning 2 teaspoons of acv with 1 cup of water a slice of lemon1 cinemin stick and 2 table apoona of chia seeds..sombody told me this remedy to lose weight..wht i do is i jus bring the water to boil add lemon slice cinemon and acv in it..than pour this into the cup which is already filled with chia seeda..but after jus 5 days today i am feeling my lower front teeth r itchy..or but pain full or may b sensative..i drink it with straw but it still touches my teeth ofcourse.wht should i do please help

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