Apples are good for your teeth because they promote saliva production and provide essential vitamins and antioxidants. However, the downside to apples is the natural acid and sugar content, which contribute to tooth decay.
Don’t treat apples as a replacement for brushing your teeth, but apples are a pretty tooth-friendly snack, all things considered.
If you’re looking for a dentist who prioritizes natural pathways to good oral health, schedule an appointment with Rejuvenation Dentistry. We’ve got 2 locations: Manhattan and East Hampton.
Let’s review the science-based details behind apples’ impact on your teeth.
Apples are not nature’s toothbrush.
Don’t forego brushing your teeth just because apples are a healthy part of a balanced diet. There are also downsides to apples.
Are apples bad for your teeth? Apples are bad for your teeth because of their sugar and acid content. An apple a day does not keep the dentist away.
Apples naturally contain the carbohydrate called fructose (fruit sugar). Harmful bacteria on your tooth surface can feed on this fruit sugar and then excrete acid, which leads to tooth decay.
The sugar content in a medium apple is equivalent to a Hershey’s bar. However, added sugar and processed sugar in chocolate bars are generally less healthy than naturally occurring apple fructose. Still, the bacteria in dental plaque will turn fructose into harmful acid.
In recent years, apples’ natural sugar content has increased. The increased fructose is good for taste buds but bad for teeth.
Separate from the acid dental bacteria produce, apples are acidic foods. Most fruits are especially acidic. The acidic nature of apples may contribute to the weakening of your tooth enamel and the exposure of the dentin layer beneath the enamel.
High acidity levels erode the top layer of your tooth, called enamel. This erosion could lead to chronic tooth sensitivity and further oral health problems.
Because apples are highly acidic, definitely do not brush your teeth with apple slices. (Or banana peels for that matter) You would be rubbing acids directly into your tooth surface, accelerating erosion.
Do apples whiten your teeth? Apples contain malic acid, which helps bleach stains from your teeth. But the sugar and acidic content in apples would also lead to tooth enamel erosion, so using apples to whiten teeth at home would lead to a net negative.
Here’s how apples can promote dental health.
What are the benefits of eating apples? The dental benefits of eating apples include saliva production, vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber.
Eating apples promotes saliva production. Increased saliva flow is excellent for dental hygiene.
Saliva prevents dry mouth (xerostomia), which can lead to all sorts of oral health issues.
Saliva rinses out food particles and bits of plaque buildup between your teeth; this helps prevent cavities, gingivitis, and bad breath.
Vitamin C is the primary vitamin in apples. 15% of your daily vitamin C is contained in an apple.
Vitamin C helps keep your gums healthy, which are vital to maintaining healthy teeth. (Vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy.) This vitamin may prevent gum inflammation and gum bleeding. It may even protect against various cancers, including oral cancer.
Antioxidants in apples include vitamin C, vitamin E, quercetin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid.
Studies show that antioxidants reduce inflammation in the body, including your mouth. (The mouth-body connection is critical to understanding your overall health.)
Reduced inflammation means a lower risk of gum disease (periodontitis), loose teeth, and tooth infection.
Apples are high in fiber. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), fiber rich foods help keep your teeth and gums clean. The fibrous texture of apples promotes saliva production, which we’ve already talked about.
Fiber fights hunger, which helps prevent obesity. When you eat fiber, you generally feel full faster. That means you probably won’t eat as much sugar, which is good for your teeth.
Regulating blood sugar is another health benefit of fiber. High blood sugar increases your risk of tooth decay, dry mouth, or spread of infection to or from your mouth.
You don’t have to stop eating apples!
Here are some handy tips on eating apples in the healthiest way possible:
- Only eat apples at meal time, rather than as a snack. This helps prevent excess sugar from messing up the balance of your oral microbiome.
- Eat the skin of the apple since it’s full of important nutrients, such as more vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, and potassium.
- Replace sugary apple juice with water. Fruit juice is packed with added sugar, and drinking water is always a good thing.
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating apples. Rinsing can wash away much of the acid, sugar, and food debris left behind in your mouth.
What fruits strengthen teeth? Apples, strawberries, oranges, and kiwis all have high levels of vitamin C, calcium, and nutrients that strengthen teeth and gums.
Your Best Defense Against Tooth Decay
Apples are generally good for your health, but they aren’t a replacement for a good oral hygiene routine.
Your best defense against tooth decay is following these dental care tips:
- Brush your teeth twice a day, using gentle circles angled towards your gums.
- Floss to get rid of interdental plaque that can hide from a toothbrush.
- Use healthy toothpaste. The ADA recommends fluoride toothpaste, even though children and adults regularly swallow toothpaste on accident, which can be poisonous. Instead, try a prebiotic toothpaste that supports a healthy oral microbiome.
- Rinse your mouth out with water after meals and after brushing. Alcohol-based mouthwashes may contribute to dry mouth. Stick with water or add an essential oil like clove or peppermint.
- Don’t brush your teeth right after eating a meal or snack. The sugars found in apples and all sorts of food act like sandpaper, damaging your tooth enamel when you brush your teeth immediately after meals. Wait at least 30 minutes before you brush.
- Limit sugary foods and drinks. If you don’t feed the bad bacteria in your mouth, you will have a healthy smile.
- Visit your dentist twice a year. Don’t neglect dental office checkups. Not only do these dental professionals clean teeth, but they can also identify early warning signs of tooth decay, periodontal disease, and other oral health problems.
If you need an integrative dentist who cares about your whole-body health, visit Rejuvenation Dentistry today. We use science-based treatments that don’t sacrifice your systemic health.
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