Is vitamin C good for teeth?

Vitamin c and teeth

Vitamin C is good for you. This has been a mantra for some health “experts”for years. .

How much vitamin c is enough?

vitamin c

Some health gurus including Linus Pauling propose massive doses up to 16 grams a day of vitamin c to prevent cancer and almost any other ailment. Simply go an the internet and search and you will find testimonials and “research” proclaiming its benefits The information is overwhelming, unsubstantiated, and often contradictory. As an example some research claims that vita c prevents cancer while other research shows vita c promotes cancer growth. I think a balanced diet containing fruit is good for you but I am unsure of the value of massive doses of vitamin C especially if it is in a chewable tablet, gummy vita or an acidic drink like emergen C or Vita water.

A personal decision affecting your teeth

How much is enough is everyone’s personal decision but you have to balance the possible benefits with the destructive effects vitamin c can have on your teeth. Vitamin C’s chemical name is ascorbic acid and in general acid is not good for teeth The strength of Vitamin c is a pH of 2.3 which is 10,000 times the strength required to melt teeth if applied by itself. Luckily our saliva helps to buffer this but it is still destructive In our dental practice we have seen numerous examples of patients who in an attempt to be “healthy” take extra vita c resulting in their teeth eroding or decaying rapidly. This is especially common when chewable vitamins stick to the teeth or become crushed into the grooves. Unfortunately this is often in children whose parents are “doing the right thing.” However we have seen it with liquid vitamin c drinks like Emergen C also.  This is the classic look of clean acid cup shaped erosion  caused by vitamin C found on the cusp tips of the first molars. Note it is not caused by softening from bacteria.

tooth with melted enamel tips

Holes in tooth created by vitamin C

In fact we have seen Vitamin C cause problems when just swallowed whole as a tablet. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and so when in excess it is secreted in your sweat, urine and saliva. So when you “overdose” on vitamin C the acid is secreted in your saliva and it no longer protects your teeth. I vividly remember a patient who was a chemical engineer and took 2000 mg a day because his mother said it was a good idea. He refused to believe me when I told him it was making his saliva so acid that it was melting his teeth. Engineers want you to prove everything. So I challenged him to test his saliva for acid. He returned and reported that his saliva was 100 times more acid when he took his vitamin c tablets. Even still he refused to stop and his teeth continued to erode away. I think if you are taking so much vitamin c that you teeth are melting you have an imbalance and maintaining good health is all about balance.

Other sources of vitamin C

Nutritional/ Dental advice

My advice is simple get your vitamins from a balanced diet not pills. Do not give you children gummy vitamins. If you insist on taking extra vitamin C ask you dentist about re-mineralization products you can use to protect your teeth