Is Vitamin C Bad For Your Teeth?

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

Vitamin C is one of the most widely used over-the-counter supplements in the world. Some take it for bone health or to boost the immune system, while others simply rely on it for their daily well-being. However, one of the most-advertised uses of vitamin C is for your teeth. But is vitamin C really good for your teeth?

Vitamin C is an important nutrient for teeth and the rest of the body. However, its acidic nature means that direct contact between vitamin C and teeth (such as through beverages or chewable tablets) can erode the enamel. Ingestible pills or non-acidic foods are a safer option to get your vitamin C.

Vitamin c is actually ascorbic acid, and like any other acid, it can react with the mineral content of your teeth. So if your teeth are exposed to vitamin C for an extended time, it can wear away the enamel and leave your teeth more vulnerable to decay. Of course, the story is a bit more complicated than that, so let’s dive into the details.

Can Vitamin C Damage Your Teeth?

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The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. Chewable Vitamin C tablets like these from Airborne (on Amazon) have both positive and negative effects on your dental health, depending on how you take it and how often.

Vitamin C keeps your connective tissue healthy, protects against teeth erosion, and enhances your gum health. And, of course, we know how important it is to protect against scurvy.

But all of these functions only work once vitamin C is inside your body. When you take vitamin C, either as a drink or a tablet, it comes into contact with your teeth, and its acidic nature can work against you.

Typically, our oral cavity maintains a pH between 6.3 and 7.6, which is close to neutral. When we eat or drink, this pH fluctuates depending on what we’re consuming. Our saliva acts as a buffer and quickly brings the pH back to normal.

However, with highly acidic foods, the saliva can’t do its job adequately, and the oral pH drops more significantly. Remember that your teeth are basically just hardened minerals, which means they’re very susceptible to demineralization.

The tooth enamel begins to erode below a pH of 5.5, and vitamin C has a pH of 2.2. So even with the help of saliva, extended exposure to vitamin C can cause tooth damage.

There is no doubt that vitamin C is essential for a healthy body, and everyone should be taking it either through natural foods or supplements. The key is to protect your teeth in the process. So how can you do this? Let’s explore in the next section.

What Is a Safe Way to Get Vitamin C Without Harming Teeth?

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Now that we’ve established that vitamin C can potentially damage teeth if it comes into direct contact with them, let’s talk about some practical solutions.

Naturally, the best way of getting vitamin C dosage is through citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, but you’re mistaken if you think they aren’t as damaging as acidic supplements. Oranges have a pH between 2.3 and 3.3, and lemons have an even lower pH, between 2 and 3.

Although their impact is highly dependent on the servings consumed, daily consumption of oranges juice can also quickly wear at your teeth.

So the first thing you need to do is limit your intake of acidic juices and instead intake vitamin C through sources that don’t wear down the enamel. Ingestible vitamin C pills, for example, are an excellent way to get vitamin C without hurting teeth.

Remember that we aren’t talking about chewable pills; instead, you should opt for ingestible tablets such as these caplets from Nature’s Bounty (on Amazon). This way, you get the same dosage of vitamin C but without any interaction with your teeth.

Other safe practices for getting vitamin C are: using a straw to drink citrus juices, swishing with water a few times after intake, diluting acidic juices, and chewing gum to increase saliva (but that comes with its own set of potential disadvantages).

Also, avoid brushing your teeth right after eating acidic food or drinks since the enamel will be in a vulnerable state, and abrasive brush strokes can further damage it. It’s best to wait for at least 30 minutes before brushing.

Are Chewable Vitamin C Pills Bad for Your Teeth? 

Chewable pills have been considered a good way to take any supplement for a long time. And for some, it’s much easier to take a chewable pill. They’re also flavorful, and many manufacturers claim that their chewable pills are more gentle on the stomach.

But all of these benefits can’t conceal the fact that they’re still acidic and can do the same damage as any other acidic product.

So the answer is yes, vitamin C chewable pills are bad for your teeth. When you chew them, the acidic content leave residue on the teeth, leaving them vulnerable to erosion over time. Even if manufacturers claim that the vitamins in chewable pills are great for your health (which they very well may be), your teeth will still pay the price.

Are Vitamin C Gummies Bad for Teeth? 

Gummies are slightly different from chewable pills, but their teeth-friendly status isn’t too different from the other harmful products mentioned above. Gummies are also bad for teeth. How? Let’s find out.

Gummies are basically soft, chewy candy, and they’re meant to be more palatable and appealing to children. Unfortunately, gummies often have a high sugar content, and this sugar adheres to the teeth, letting vitamin C stay in your mouth longer and potentially damaging your teeth.

Here we should mention that the sugary content brings lots of saliva into the mouth, which neutralizes the acidity to some extent, but it’s not enough to make the gummies tooth-friendly.

So while you can get vitamin C through gummies, it’s preferable to avoid having gummies on a daily basis and to switch to ingestible pills instead.

Simply put, although you certainly need vitamin C, you also need strong teeth. And for that, it’s best to replenish your vitamin C levels through healthy, tooth-friendly sources like ingestible pills and non-acidic fruits and vegetables.

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