Fruit is an undisputed winner in the healthy snack category: whole, fresh fruits are full of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins – especially Vitamin C, which is a crucial nutrient the human body doesn’t produce naturally. But fruit isn’t always the best snack for the health of your teeth. Most fruits are high in sugars and acids, the two leading causes behind tooth decay. Acid erodes protective tooth enamel. And when you eat sugar, bacteria living in the mouth consumes it and produces even more acid. An acidic environment in your mouth leads to tooth decay and gum disease (gingivitis).
Here, we’ve compiled a list of tips on how to consume fruit without damaging your teeth and enamel:
- Fruits with high levels of acidity should be eaten in moderation. Common fruits include citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit), pineapples, grapes, figs, mangos, and cherries. Never suck on lemons or limes – holding acidic fruits against your teeth will soften the enamel.
- Pair a piece of fruit with cheese for a healthy and filling snack. Cheese will counteract the acidity in fruits and promote remineralization of your teeth. Nibbling on cheese also increases saliva flow, and your saliva is full of enzymes that help neutralize mouth acids.
- After eating fruit, rinse your mouth out with water. Don’t brush your teeth immediately after eating because you may knock loose soft pieces of enamel. Instead, wait thirty minutes to an hour before brushing, to give the enamel time to resettle.
- Fruit juices should be consumed sparingly. Juices are high in both sugar and acid, and many of the fruit nutrients have been stripped away during processing (for example, a lot of nutrients in apples are found in the skin). Also, juices create a situation in which your teeth are being constantly attacked by sugar and acid as you sip your drink. Prolonged exposure to damaging sugars and acids increases your risk of tooth decay. If you do drink fruit juice, sip it through a straw.
- It’s healthiest to eat whole, fresh fruits. Jams, jellies, and juices may contain added sugars and preservatives. Dried fruits are sticky and often remain trapped in your teeth after you eat them – the sugars left behind will produce acid that leads to tooth decay. And commercially sold dried fruits often come with added sugars and preservatives.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should stop eating fruits. Fruits are full of good-for-you fiber and vitamins and fresh fruit should be a part of any balanced diet. If you are looking for options that are lower in fruit acids and sugar, we’ve gathered a list for you to start with:
- Berries are low in both sugars and acids. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are packed with fiber, nutrients, and Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body’s immune system fight off infections, including mouth and gum infections.
- Kiwi fruits are berries too – they are a good source of Vitamin C and calcium. Calcium keeps your teeth and jaw bones strong, and it aids in the process of tooth remineralization.
- Apples have lower acid levels than other fruits, and they are an excellent source of fiber. And chewing on crunchy, fibrous fruits like apples stimulates saliva flow, which helps protect your mouth from damaging acids.
- Other low-acid fruits include bananas, melons – like cantaloupe and honeydew, coconuts, dates, figs, nectarines, peaches, and papaya.
Along with practicing good tooth care when you eat fruit, getting regular dental check-ups should be part of your oral health routine. If it’s time to schedule your next dental exam, contact Boyett Family Dentistry today for appointment times.