We eat fresh citrus fruits for the taste and health benefits of fighting infections, healing wounds, and lowering blood pressure. But at what cost to our oral health? Citrus fruits and tooth enamel actually mix as well as oil and water.
The same citrus fruits that help support your overall health by providing vitamins and minerals can also contain harsh acids that damage your tooth enamel. This acidity can also cause sensitivity, discolouring of the enamel and promote development of painful canker sores.
Are Citrus Fruits Bad for Your Teeth
In short, the answer to this question is yes. In addition to the acidity found in oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits, there is also the factor of the natural sugar content. In juice form the sugar content is higher.
The combination of these sugars and acidic components creates an environment that is hazardous to the enamel of the tooth. The enamel becomes soft and can erode, leading to decay and tooth loss. Unfortunately, enamel doesn’t regenerate and grow back.
The Effects of Citrus Fruits on Teeth
To understand the effects of citrus fruits on the teeth, one must consider the pH level of the food and the saliva. For optimal oral health, the pH level of the saliva should be in the range of 6.5 to 7.5 at a resting state. This neutral range protects against enamel erosion.
Below are some of the common effects of citrus fruits on your teeth.
Consuming foods and beverages high in acidity lowers the pH level, resulting in an oral environment of high acidity. The enamel becomes covered in the acid, becoming weak as it loses its mineralization. Citrus fruits can cause a buildup of bacteria due to the acidity in the mouth. This action can increase the level of acidity, damaging the enamel and leading to tooth decay.
High acidity levels, particularly from consumption of citrus fruits can cause small canker sores to develop. Usually seen at the base of the gums or along the soft tissue throughout the mouth cavity, these lesions can be extremely painful. Canker sores can disappear after several days with no treatment. You can reduce or help eliminate canker sores rinsing daily with warm salty water.
Sensitivity and Discolouration
The high acidity of lemons and other citrus fruits can cause discomfort and mild pain for those with tooth sensitivity issues. Another common effect is discolouration of the teeth. Noticeably seen with regular consumption of orange and lemon fruit and juices, the teeth will appear to have a yellow hue.
Does Citric Acid Damage Your Teeth
Considering the effects of citrus fruits on teeth, does citric acid damage the teeth? Absolutely, yes it does! The sugar component from one’s diet, or acidity levels caused by some foods can lead to damage of all of the teeth.
This may be hard to comprehend as the enamel of the tooth is actually the hardest material found in the human body. The damage doesn’t happen overnight, but it is seen as the acid slowly wears down the surface of the enamel. As mentioned, this leads to decay and cavities, both of which are categorized as severe injuries to the tooth.
Tips to Minimize Citric Acid Damage to Enamel
Does that mean you should choose between citrus fruits and the health of your teeth? Not necessarily. We require high levels of vitamin C for healthy gums and general dental health, cleansing the mouth and to stimulate production of saliva. These tips to minimize citric acid damage can help to prevent enamel erosion.
Limit Your Consumption of Citrus Fruits and Drinks
There is a dentistry saying, “sip all day, risk decay”. This refers to limiting high acidity exposure to the teeth by drinking or eating the fruit in one sitting. Set a daily limit, if need be, to prevent the teeth from having contact with the acid all day long.
Use a Straw when Drinking
Since the biggest risk to your oral health is from the acidity coming in contact with your tooth enamel, it is recommended to use a straw when drinking any fruit juice or high sugary drink, to reduce the time teeth are exposed to the acidity.
Rinse with Water after Eating Citrus Fruits
The warmer weather may see more opportunities to snack on fresh fruit morning, noon, and night. Protect your enamel by drinking a full glass of plain water after eating any citrus fruits. This can reduce the acid levels in the mouth by washing it away from the teeth.
Brush and Floss Twice a Day
Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day is key to good oral health and to help keep acidity levels down. But did you know there is a specific time to brush? Wait for at least one hour after eating high acidic meals to brush. This allows time for your natural enamel protector known as saliva to rid your teeth of acid naturally and re-harden the enamel. Brushing immediately after eating can damage the enamel by abrasion from the toothbrush bristles.
Add Calcium-Rich Foods to Your Diet
The natural occurring acid and levels consumed by citrus fruits can be neutralized by adding calcium enriched foods to your diet. Dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and cheese can help reduce acidity in the mouth, thereby helping to protect the enamel. Other foods to consider include figs, soybeans, canned salmon, dark leafy greens, seeds, and almonds.
Contact Princeview Dental Group in Etobicoke
Discuss your concerns about citrus fruits causing sensitive teeth or enamel damage with the team at Princeview Dental Group. Providing regular and emergency dental services in Etobicoke, we offer a safe and judgement-free environment for everyone.
Our team members are dedicated to your dental health with long-serving experience in the dentistry field. Contact us to learn how we can help you protect your oral health! A reminder that our office has moved down the street. It is now located at 3052 Bloor Street West, directly under the Crooked Cue Pub and Restaurant.