Can fruit harm my teeth?

While many associate a diet of lots of fruits and vegetables with a healthy waistline, the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants of fruits and veggies are key for a healthy gum line as well. One of the reasons fruit and vegetables are so important for oral health is that when your body gets all the nutrients it needs, your mouth can easily resist infection. Secondly, leafy vegetables and other high-fiber foods also require a lot of chewing and increase saliva production which is choice for your choppers. There are a few fruits that have a high acid content, which can be damaging to tooth enamel, but should still be consumed in moderation for their other benefits.

Apples

The fibrous texture of apples make them a solid snack choice because they stimulate your gums, boost saliva flow, and reduce cavity-causing bacteria while you chew. Saliva abates acidity in your mouth, rinses away bacteria and food particles, and prevents a decay-causing dry mouth. Apple juice is not considered an ideal food, as the high sugar content can contribute to tooth decay, but apples make a great natural toothbrush until you can get to a bristled one.

There are a few fruits that have a high acid content, which can be damaging to tooth enamel, but should still be consumed in moderation for their other benefits.

Carrots

Like apples, crunchy and fiber-full carrots increase saliva production in your mouth, which reduces your risk of cavities. An excellent source of vitamin A, a nutrient that helps build strong teeth, carrots are a great meal-ender as a teeth and gum cleaner.

Celery

A third “natural toothbrush,” fibrous celery is great scraping away food particles and bacteria from your teeth. Full of water, celery can mitigate a mouth’s sugar content, and is good source of gum-nurturing antioxidants Vitamin A and C.

Citrus Fruit

With the most bountiful amount of vitamin C, citrus fruits are crucial to oral health, as a lack of vitamin C can lead to unhealthy and bleeding gums, and potentially unstable teeth. Other vitamin C-rich foods include pineapples, tomatoes and cucumbers.

The downside of these fruits, however, is that they are highly acidic which can cause tooth enamel to weaken and demineralize over time. The acid content of a food is measured by its pH value. As per the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), foods that have at a pH value below 7 are considered acidic. The lower the pH, the higher the level of acidity, so lemons and limes are the most acidic, and oranges, the least.

To counteract the downsides of citrus to your dental health, do not suck on lemons, limes and other acidic fruit, sip fruit juices through a straw to prevent direct contact with your teeth, rinse with water after eating fruit to dilute the acids in your mouth, and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing to give your enamel time to resettle. It’s also recommended to eat cheese after your fruit to raise the pH levels in your mouth and increase saliva production, which also helps neutralize acids.

The most acidic fruits and their pH value as observed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are:

  1. Lemon Juice (2.00 – 2.60)
  2. Limes (2.00 – 2.80)
  3. Cranberry Juice (2.30 – 2.52)
  4. Blue Plums (2.80 – 3.40)
  5. Grapes (2.90 – 3.82)
  6. Pomegranates (2.93 – 3.20)
  7. Grapefruits (3.00 – 3.75)
  8. Blueberries (3.12 – 3.33)
  9. Pineapples (3.20 – 4.00)
  10. Apples (3.33 – 4.00)
  11. Peaches (3.30 – 4.05)
  12. Mangos (3.40 – 4.80)
  13. Oranges (3.69 – 4.34)

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as kale and spinach, which are high in calcium, help strengthen teeth enamel. They also contain folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has numerous health benefits. Leafy green vegetables such as asparagus, cabbage, chard, collard greens, endive, lettuce, mustard greens and watercress are also chock full of vitamins and minerals, necessary for optimal oral health.

Posted In: Oral & Dental Health Tips