Acidic Foods and Teeth: Why an Apple a Day Won’t Keep the Dentist Away

We all know the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”; however, this doesn’t apply to the dentist! Although apples, and all sorts of other acidic fruits, have great health benefits, they can also be destructive to your teeth. Here’s why and what you can do to protect your awesome chompers:

The outermost surface of your teeth is covered with a hard, clear, and highly mineralized coat called “enamel”. You may have heard of the word “enamel” from your dentist, hygienist, on dental TV commercials, or written on your dental products. Why is enamel such a big deal? Well, its what protects your teeth from damage, and unfortunately it doesn’t contain any living cells; therefore, if your enamel is eroded away because of sugar, acid, or a build-up of bacteria, then it can’t “grow” itself back. The breakdown of enamel leaves you susceptible to tooth sensitivity and decay.

We all know that we should brush and floss to get rid of bacteria. We also know that sugar is bad for our teeth and (hopefully) try not to over-indulge on candy, sweets, and pop (I’m from Buffalo and we say “pop” 🙂 ). Truthfully, I have quite the sweet tooth but try to counteract it with taking good care of my teeth. What some don’t know is that the acidic fruits we may eat, or the fruit juices we may drink, also have damaging effects on our teeth! But they have great health benefits… so what do we do?! Thankfully, there are a bunch of ways we can protect our teeth while still eating these wonderful fruits to get all the vitamins and minerals we need.

Below is a list of items that are most acidic and corrosive to our teeth. In parenthesis I’ve included the pH of the food. The “pH” tells you how acidic, basic, or neutral something is. Acidic items have a pH between 1-7. The closer the number is to 1.0, the more acidic it is. The closer the number is to 7.0, the less acidic it is. This list is provided by the FDA:

  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)

Here are ways to protect your teeth:

  • Eat acidic foods with water. – Water neutralizes the acidic nature of these foods and protects your teeth! You can also rinse your mouth out with water after you eat, if you don’t have drinking water with you.
  • Drink with a straw. – This reduces the amount of acidic juice, lemon water, etc., coming in contact with your teeth. I tend to try to drink other drinks through a straw as well, such as pop or coffee (I take it iced if I can).
  • Pair your fruits with cheese. – Cheese increases the pH level in your mouth and also stimulates more saliva production. Saliva also raises pH levels in your mouth. Therefore, cheese is your friend!
  • Pair your fruits with nuts. – Nuts are also your friend, for the same reasons above.
  • Don’t brush right away. – Since the acidity of your snack/meal will soften your enamel, brushing right away can actually cause damage. Wait 30 minutes, then brush with a toothpaste that contains fluoride.

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