September 18, 2018
Apple season is in full swing, and there are some things about apples that people find confusing. While they are considered a healthy food, there are several side effects that affect your teeth!
The pH of apple juice is 2.9-3.3. To put that in perspective, the pH of stomach acid is 1.5-3.5. In other words, drinking apple juice regularly has the same effect on your dental enamel as drinking stomach fluid! Acidic food and drinks can cause a lot of dental erosion (thinning of the enamel), increase the effects of cavity-causing bacteria, and create a lot of unnecessary tooth sensitivity.
Despite this, there are many positive effects of eating apples. The skin and flesh of an apple contain a lot of fiber, which can mechanically break down the plaque layers that build up on your teeth and stimulate blood flow in your gums, and they are a great source of dietary fiber. They are also relatively low in calories and are a good vitamin source; not to mention that they are delicious!
Below are a few tips to avoid the negative effects of apples on our teeth while still enjoying them:
Eat the apple quickly: The shorter the acid challenge to your teeth, the less time the enamel will be breaking down. This rule applies to most acidic and sugary foods; if you are going to eat it, eat it fast!
Drink water afterwards: The pH of your mouth should be approximately 7.4 or higher to avoid cavities and erosion, so washing the acid down with some neutral pH water will help your saliva raise your pH.
Do not brush your teeth for 30-60 minutes afterwards: Dental enamel is slightly “soft” in an acidic environment, so brushing immediately can actually mechanically remove a very thin layer of tooth. It is best to let the acidity neutralize before brushing.
Apples can be one of the best fruits to eat during the harvest season, but following the above rules will make eating them as easy on your teeth as possible.
For more information on simple tips to make better food choices for your teeth please check out the British Columbia Dental Association handout.