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kombucha bottles in refrigeratorOver the past few months, we’ve been hearing a lot more dentists raise concerns about how trendy kombucha has become. “It’s bad for your teeth!” the headlines scream.

But are those headlines true? Pretty much, yes.

As we’ve noted before, for all the benefits of kombucha – a delicious way to increase your intake of probiotics to support a healthy gut (and , thus, a healthy mouth, as well) – the drink can in fact damage tooth enamel.

There are two big reasons why:

  1. Kombucha is quite acidic – about on par with most sodas and a little less acidic than pure vinegar. This acidity is murder on tooth enamel.
  2. Kombucha can contain a good amount of sugar. While most of this goes to feeding the bacteria and yeast used in the fermentation process, there can still be several grams of sugar in each 8 ounce serving. Sure, it’s less sugar than in a soda or fruit juice, but it’s still sugar and can add up quickly if you drink kombucha throughout the day. Sugars are the preferred food of harmful oral bacteria, and the metabolic waste from their feasting is highly acidic and damaging to the enamel.

Additionally, the tannins in kombucha can stain your teeth, just as those in tea, coffee, and wine can stain.

But while stains can be removed and smiles brightened, there’s no regrowing tooth enamel that’s been damaged or lost, whether due to diet, bruxing, or some other factor. Once it’s gone, it’s gone – and the living tissues underneath become more vulnerable to decay. Cosmetic dentistry can cover up the damage, but the better option is to be smart if and when you choose to drink kombucha or other fermented drinks.

  • First, drink them in moderation – as a once-in-a-while treat and not a daily indulgence.

  • When you do drink them, use a paper or reusable straw. Be sure to place the sipping end of the straw behind your front teeth to minimize their exposure to the beverage.

  • Afterwards, drink or rinse your mouth with a glass of plain, fluoride-free water.

Last, keep in mind that you have lots of other options for getting more probiotics into your diet. Think yogurt and kefir. Think sauerkraut and kimchi. Think miso and tempeh. There are also good quality supplements you can take, as well, and even pro- and prebiotic toothpastes that can help support a healthy oral microbiome in particular.

It doesn’t have to be ALL about the kombucha.

Image by Tony Webster

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