Apple cider vinegar diet and your teeth | Ben's Blog

It's time I turned my attention to the Apple Cider Vinegar diet and your teeth.  Why?  Well, I’ve been hearing a lot of very positive things about the ACV diet from my patients. 

But the word ‘vinegar’ in there set off a few alarm bells about what this might be doing to your oral health, so I decided to do my own research. 

Here’s what I found out…

Searching news articles, health sites and YouTube, I found a strange mix of beauty bloggers and doctors all praising the benefits of drinking ACV; everything from better skin to weight loss are the claims.  And even the BBC ‘Trust me I’m a Doctor’ gang have got in on the act.  They tested the effects of ACV on the body and found a very positive result; that it can have significant influence on blood sugar levels and cholesterol.  This has got to be good news.

The bad news is that it’s vinegar.  It’s incredibly acidic and therefore a nightmare for your teeth.

The ACV diet recipe

Most advice seems to be that you make up a mixture containing the ACV and a few other (mostly acidic) liquids and then dilute them in water, and drink that concoction three times a day before meals.  The most popular recipe seems to be this one:-

3 teaspoons ACV with the mother (that means that some of the original fermented yeast is present in the bottle and you’ll need to give it a good shake to mix it together)
2 teaspoons pure pressed cranberry juice (not the stuff you buy in cartons in the supermarket, but pure pressed juice – it’s much stronger than the ordinary variety)
2 teaspoons ginger juice or cordial (which has a boat-load of sugar in it too) or grated ginger (who has time to grate ginger?)
2 teaspoons of lemon juice (because clearly this isn’t acidic enough already).

The ACV, pressed cranberry juice and ginger cordial I bought in my local health food shop – not cheap, but you’re only using a few teaspoons at a time, so it’ll last a while. I think the cranberry, lemon and ginger are just there to give flavour more than anything scientific – it’s the ACV that you really need.

Mix all the ingredients together and add about 200ml to 250ml of plain water and you’re good to go.

It’s a deceptively pretty colour. 

You’re supposed to drink this mixture three times a day, about half an hour before you eat, so you’re drinking it on an empty stomach. 

Never one to shy away from a challenge…

Totally up for this
Smells like liquid feet
The regret starts early
Yep, that's acidic
Then there's the after-taste

Some of the doctors that I watched discuss this on YouTube said that although the drink is obviously vinegary, if your body needs this acid boost you won’t find it unpalatable.   I can remember one of them clearly saying that if you find you can’t drink this at all (if you find it so acidic you just cannot swallow it) then your body doesn’t need it.   Yes, I agree that our bodies are brilliant at knowing what they need, but… I’m not sure about this claim.

Anyway, what was it like?  Awful. Just awful.  But I still managed to drink almost all of it.  And I guess if you think it’s doing you good and you see positive results from it, then you'll manage it.

But (and it’s a huge one), this stuff is terrible for your teeth.  Right from the first sip I could feel the effect of the acid on my teeth. 

I did a quick pH test and it’s 2.5 – that’s incredibly low.

So, if you’re going to do the ACV diet, here are my four absolutely key tips for taking care of your teeth at the same time.

Four VITAL tips to protect your teeth from the ACV diet

  1. DO NOT under any circumstances sip this drink throughout the day.  That’ll mean that your poor teeth are under constant acid attack.  The diet calls for you to drink this three times per day – so get it down the hatch in one go each time.  DO NOT SIP.  It’s not the world’s nicest drink - I certainly don’t think you would drink it for pleasure - so I’m sure this piece of advice will be easy to follow.

  2. ALWAYS drink it through a straw.  This greatly minimizes how much of the acid fluid actually touches your teeth.

  3. DO NOT brush your teeth afterwards.  Ideally you should leave four hours between drinking it and brushing your teeth so you’ll have to work your oral hygiene routine and meal times around that.

  4. ALWAYS chew sugar-free gum straight after drinking.  That’ll stimulate your saliva flow which helps to neutralize the acid and restore your mouth to a normal pH.

Good luck

I'm grinning hard on this one - I know for sure I never have to drink this stuff again.  And all things considered, I think I did pretty well - that glass is almost empty.  I had just enough left to make sure I made the nurses each try a sip too.  I'm good like that.

Anyway, if you're going to follow the diet, I wish you loads of luck.

Just make sure you follow my tips above, because even though your body may love the ACV diet, your teeth will hate it.  

Come in for a chat with me and my hygiene team if you're thinking about doing this diet - or in fact if you're going on any eating plan that completely cuts out or relies on one particular foodstuff.  We can have a good chat about what that might mean for your teeth and make sure you've got an oral hygiene plan that's as good as your diet plan.