Tooth enamel is the top layer on the visible part of teeth. It is vital in protecting the nerve ending in the tooth and is one of the hardest substances produced in the human body. Over time tooth enamel can be worn away, leading to dental problems and sensitive teeth. There are a number of things that can lead to the eroding of tooth enamel, such as sugar, but other substances, like vinegar also have an effect.
The damaging part of the vinegar for tooth enamel is the acid it contains. The acid lowers the mouth's pH level, causing the enamel to demineralise. This means for a period after ingesting vinegar, or any other acidic substance, the teeth are more vulnerable to cavities and other problems as the tooth enamel is weaker than normal. This applies to all vinegars, such as the balsamic in salad dressing, but also apple cider vinegar, which is sometimes used as a health tonic.
If drinking vinegar for health reasons, like apple cider vinegar, dilute it with water. This reduces the strength of the acid, but should also be followed up with other protection measures.
After drinking vinegar, or other acidic substances, rinse out your mouth with water. This helps the mouth's pH level rise, protecting the enamel.
Brushing after meals may be inconvenient, although dentists still encourage people to do it. If brushing after consuming vinegar, make sure the mouth is completely rinsed out with water. Otherwise the brushing will push the acid directly against the weakened tooth enamel,causing greater problems.