It’s late September, Fall has officially begun, and Fall is apple season! Are apples good for your teeth? That is not as easy to answer as you may think. There are many perspectives on the effect eating apples can have on the teeth. Let’s review a few good points:
Eating apples can help to clean the teeth by dislodging plaque. Due to their high fiber content (especially in the peel), they have a sort of scrubbing effect as you chew. Their mild acidity can act as a mild astringent to clean the enamel as well. +1 for apples, right?
Another argument in favor of apples being good for your teeth is their satiation. A major contributor to tooth decay is constant snacking, and most of the time, constant snacking continually exposes your mouth to carbs and sugar, meaning your mouth doesn’t get an in-between-meal break from the carbs and sugars that fuel an acidic environment and leads to cavities. But eating an apple as quick snack, with their impressive fiber and water content, may help keep you fuller longer and prevent all-day grazing on typical carb-heavy snacks like chips or crackers… in theory. But in reality, snacking on apples (or any fruit) between meals may not be the best advice…
Apples may have scrubbing fibers, but they also have sugar and acid in them, which can damage the teeth. In fact, this fruit’s sugar content has risen by up to 50 percent since as little as 10 years ago. Popular new varieties have been bred for a sweeter taste , such as honeycrisp, fuji, and pink lady, and these popular sweeter types make up most of a typical supermarket’s supply. A decade or two ago, an apple’s sugar content accounted for about 10-11% of it’s weight, and today, many varieties are up to 15%! Oh no, apples!
The safest approach may very well be just be to eat apples only at mealtimes to minimize tooth damage. Leaving sugar and acid on the teeth leads to cavities, so if you do have an apple as a snack, it would be best to drink plenty of water and wait a little while before brushing. Brushing immediately after eating apples and other foods does more harm than good, because tooth enamel is softened by the acids in the foods, and tiny bits of enamel can be scrubbed away by the toothbrush along with the food. Wait 20-30 minutes and drink water during that time, then brush. Drinking water will help to rinse away food particles and dilute acid and sugar, giving the teeth a chance to remineralize.
At Mall of Georgia Dentistry, we know that all kinds of foods can be part of a tooth-friendly diet, if you know how to protect your teeth.