Eating Fruit is Bad for the Teeth (But Good for the Body)?

I guess that requires some explanation for the torches-and-pitchforks crowd.

One would think that skipping the meat and going full on vegetarian or vegan would be a great thing, let alone the raw food diet.

Hey, something that skips adding excess fat, sugar, and all the things we’ve been told are going to kill us in the years to come?

Well if it ain’t one thing, it’s certainly another.

I was surprised to hear that we should restrict our fruit intake. Seriously, fruit? One of the staples of the pyramid that seems to go by the wayside, especially in fresh form?

Yeah, most fruit needs to take a backseat in the diet.

Why? The sugar content.

Yes, in a piece of fresh fruit, there are natural sugars. But that’s the thing: they’re still sugar. And many of them are acidic foods. Put sugar + acid and you have the perfect recipe for enamel erosion.

This blog post from renegadehealth.com really surprised me regarding a man’s issues with the raw food diet and his battle to keep his teeth. I mean–it’s not soda pop or fruit juices he was having, but natural fruit and dried fruit and similar things.

Apparently, sugar doesn’t know the difference if it comes from a healthy source or not. Nor does acid. He wasn’t eating anything to balance out the pH in his mouth.

I learned a lot from Mr Patenaude’s post. And then promptly went to brush my own teeth.

But more than that, it made me look in other avenues for other foods that hurt your teeth.

I’m going to skip the pages and pages that say stop drinking soda and fruit juice, eating hard candy and soft candy…I’m pretty sure we all know those, but indulge anyway.

No, it’s the little tips and tricks to let you have the more acidic and sugary fruits you crave, and not have your dentist snapping on those latex gloves with poorly-hidden glee as they prod your mouth for money-makers.

It’s kinda awkward when the dentist is doing her examination and the assistant starts saying “cha-ching!” after each tooth.

First of all, sugar is on the increase even in fresh fruit. Dunno how that happened (freaking GMOs, I wonder?) but apparently that extra bit of sugar is helping strip away tooth enamel faster when it’s combined with the acid…especially in apples.

I thought I was being paranoid when I decided I needed to start brushing my teeth after every meal just in case (heaven knows I’ve lost count the amount of cavities I’ve had over the years).

Looks nummy…but now my acid reflux is acting up just looking at it all.

Colgate’s website (yes, the toothpaste company–and there’s some product plugging when you read their posts) had a great article about the acid content of fruits more than the sugar. If you have sensitive teeth and were concerned about rapid erosion, the list of juices and fruits in the article ranks the most to least acidic of the top 13 (per the FDA, the numbers indicate the pH level).

  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)

I’d always seen concern about strawberries, but they didn’t make the list (whew!). I think it’s the seeds that do us in instead (dammit).

I learned that from Julia Roberts (hey, Pretty Woman was on last night, so there).

Naturally, it’s not so much what kind of fruit you eat, but in what form you have it in. Oralanswers.com breaks down the 6 major ways we have fruit that seem like no-brainers (fresh, frozen, canned, fruit juice, dried fruit, and preserved/jams/jellies). But many people still think as long as you get your fruit in, who cares?

Well, fresh and frozen are the best ones, the most healthful with the least amount of sugar. Canned fruit can be good but may need draining (check the label for packing and additives info). Fruit juice is lousy, as is preserved fruit because it’s concentrated sugar and acid with little nutrition left.

(sigh) All I see now is sugar and acid…well, that’ll help with weight loss, I’m sure.

That leaves dried fruit, whereby the water is taken out but the sugar and acid remain in concentrated form. But that’s also why the portion sizes are so small for dried fruits. Clean your teeth well and flush with plenty of water and it should be alright.

Water has been the key protector most of these articles mention. If you just eat the fruit and don’t clean your teeth or rinse your mouth out afterward, the sugars and acid stay stuck to the gums and teeth and continue to erode.

That makes sense to me, especially after eating a “sticky” fruit, like the dried fruits, berries, or bananas–wash it down with water and/or brush your teeth.

As far as healthy (in moderation) foods that can help your teeth, I was a bit surprised to find “cheese” on the menu. On the other hand, maybe that’s why there are always “cheese and fruit’ trays at parties. Somebody figured out that they go together and balance out…hmm.

Guess that’s why I always hung around the picking-table at events instead of hugging the walls–museums are good at having cheese and fruit trays. I just didn’t realize I was doing something good for myself…as long as I didn’t have too much cheese (lactose intolerance sucks).

Keep the wine–just gimme some of those smoked swiss cubes and a handful of pineapple and strawberries and nobody gets hurt.

Other foods that can help your teeth are (but not limited to):

  • Yogurt
  • leafy greens
  • apples (again, wash ’em down afterward with water)
  • carrots
  • celery
  • almonds

Those were some of the basics Colgate put out, but pretty much anything that’s dense, not sticky, full of fiber and essential nutrients like calcium and protein (and low in sugar) are good to work with.

And of course the water. Lots and lots of good, refreshing water to help fill you up and clean you out (that nasty mouth, that is).

On a final note: some foods (like celery) are written about that they’re “like toothbrushes.” However, it’s worth it to remember they are NOT actually toothbrushes (and those little annoying fibers are so easy to get stuck between teeth).

Buckle down and get that plastic thing out of the medicine cabinet, drop a lovely dollop of funky fluoridated paste on the bristles, and get scrubbing.

Your checkbook will like you for it.

And on that note, I’m gonna go brush again… get that coffee off the tongue.

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