Five Trendy Things that are Really Bad for your Teeth

With the wealth of information available to anyone with internet access comes the risk of incomplete information or misinformation.  Health and beauty blogs tout countless trendy ways to lose weight, clear your skin, and whiten your teeth.

There are a few popular trends that can have a detrimental effect on your teeth, and we want you to learn about these dangers before you find out the hard way (i.e. multiple new cavities or broken down dental work).

Apple Cider Vinegar

Fans of apple cider vinegar claim a wide range of health benefits from drinking it straight, diluting it with water or gargling it.  These claims include calming an upset stomach, curing hiccups, soothing a sore throat, lowering cholesterol, losing weight, and boosting energy.

The benefits are pretty tempting.  Here are the risks: increased chance of cavities and greater likelihood of acid erosion/damage to teeth and dental work.

The pH of apple cider vinegar is 3.3 to 3.5.  This is far below the threshold at which enamel, the hardest substance in the body, begins to dissolve.  Any prolonged contact of a strong acid with your teeth begins to weaken the enamel, making it easier for bacteria to penetrate, causing a cavity.

Strong acids also cause deterioration and breakdown of existing dental work.

A thorough rinsing with water should follow any use of apple cider vinegar in your mouth in order to bring the pH inside the mouth back to neutral.  Do not brush immediately.  Wait until your mouth returns to neutral.

Lemon Juice Detox

The most popular lemon juice detox is called the Master Cleanse, and it claims to cleanse the body of toxins and help you lose 20 pounds in 10 days.  The recipe for the recommended “lemonade” includes fresh lemon or lime juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water.

There are two huge problems in this recipe: lemon juice and maple syrup.  One is an extremely strong acid, and the other is loaded with sugar.

There is another problem with the Master Cleanse, as far as teeth are concerned.  The detox calls for avoiding all solid food for 10 days, which means liquids only.

When we chew, we stimulate the production of saliva, which is our body’s natural defense against acid and bacteria.  Saliva fights cavities, gum disease, and acid erosion.  If chewing stops, and only drinking ensues, the production of saliva decreases.  This puts someone at a higher risk for the things saliva fights: cavities, gum disease, and acid erosion.

Sparkling Water

Many people drink sparkling water simply because they like it.  Others drink it in an attempt to stop drinking sodas.  Other people enjoy it as an alternative to plain water every once in a while.

Is sparkling water better for your teeth than soda?  Of course.

Is it completely risk-free?  No.

Sparkling water is acidic.  The flavored types of sparkling water typically add citric acid to create lemon, lime or orange flavors.  This makes it even more acidic; some fall into the same pH range as sodas and sports drinks.

Sipping on a sparkling water drink throughout the day creates a low pH environment in your mouth, weakening enamel and making it easier for bacteria to cause cavities.

Enjoy sparkling water during a meal so that your saliva can counteract the acid it contains.


Kombucha is trendy, but it is not new.  Records of “fermented tea” show that people have been drinking kombucha for over 2000 years.  Health benefits attributed to kombucha include detoxification, improved digestion, immune system stimulation, arthritis and cancer prevention, and weight loss among others.

Some people make their own kombucha, and others prefer store-bought brands.  There are two concerns with kombucha: acidity and sugar content.  One of the most important steps in making your own kombucha is monitoring the pH level.  When the pH level reaches about 3, the brewing cycle is complete, and it is ready to drink.  This pH is low enough to damage enamel, weakening it and making it vulnerable to cavity-causing bacteria.

Some store-bought brands of kombucha contain as much as 10 grams of sugar per serving, and most bottles contain more than 2 servings.  As with candy and sodas, high sugar content feeds those same cavity-causing bacteria, increasing your risk for cavities.

Activated Charcoal

There are countless new oral hygiene products containing activated charcoal.  They claim to absorb both toxins and stains, leading to healthy gums and white teeth.

In 2017, the American Dental Association published a literature review of all the current scientific studies regarding activated charcoal.  Their findings state that there is not enough evidence to deem activated charcoal products effective at removing bacterial toxins or whitening teeth.  There is also not enough evidence to confirm that activated charcoal is safe to use on your teeth.

The risk is damage to the enamel caused by abrasion.  Abrasion is the gradual wearing away of enamel by an abrasive or gritty substance.  This is like using sandpaper on your teeth.  Because many beauty blogs recommend DIY toothpastes using activated charcoal and coconut oil, the level of abrasiveness could be different for each homemade recipe.  Being unable to measure its safety means we cannot recommend it.

Are You Curious about Another Trend and Its Effects on Teeth?

Ask Dr. Chowning at your next checkup about any trends you are considering.  He will make sure you will not damage your teeth by trying a new diet or trend.  Call our office at 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation.

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