Will An Apple A Day Keep The Dentist Away?

Australian farmers grow 1.6 billion apples every year, so it's unsurprising that Aussie families eat around 200 million kilos of the fruit. Apples certainly have several health benefits, but do you know what effect these sweet treats can have on your teeth? Learn how apples can affect your teeth, and find out what fruit addicts may need to do to protect their dental health.

Why people choose apples

Apples have several powerful health benefits. These tasty fruits can:

  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Cleanse your digestive system
  • Prevent cholesterol

What's more, studies show that apples can also help people with asthma and can even cut the risk of stroke. Nonetheless, while an apple a day may keep the doctor away, this fruit's effect on your teeth is less favourable.

How apples can harm your teeth

Like other types of fruit, apples contain high amounts of different types of acid, including malic acid, phosphoric acid and citric acid. In fact, the acid content of a typical apple gives the fruit a typical pH value of 3.7. On that basis, dentists and dieticians would categorise apple juice as a high-acid beverage.

Regular consumption of high-acid foods and drinks can increase the natural level of acidity in your mouth. Increased acidity can damage the protective enamel layer of your teeth, making your teeth more prone to erosion and tooth decay.

One of the biggest problems with an apple is that the acid from the fruit stays in your mouth longer. Most people eat an apple as a snack or as a sweet treat at the end of a meal. If this is the case, the acid has more time to slowly erode the enamel than other ingredients that might quickly disappear in the middle of a large meal.

How to prevent damage

The good news is that it's relatively easy to prevent damage from an apple, as long as you take a few sensible precautions after you have finished eating. To stop the acidity causing enamel erosion, you should rinse your mouth as soon as you finish eating the apple. A glass of water will help, but you can also rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash.

Sugar-free gum is another good way to restore your mouth's natural pH balance, but even a glass of milk or a piece of cheese will help. The calcium found naturally in dairy products will quickly neutralise unwanted acidity.

One thing you should avoid is turning to your toothbrush for help. Brushing can actually worsen the erosion caused by an apple because the acidity makes the enamel softer and more vulnerable, so don't brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes after you finish the apple.

Apples have plenty of health benefits, but the natural acid content in these fruits isn't good for your teeth. To keep extra dental visits to a minimum, make sure you quickly neutralise the excess acidity, or you could face problems with enamel erosion. Consult a dentist if you have specific questions about maintaining your oral health.