Apples aren't only your doctor's favorite fruit, but your dentist's too? This delicious fruit earned itself the moniker of "nature's toothbrush," but is it all hype or based on cold, hard facts? We're sharing the best and worst effects that apples have on your pearly whites below. (Hint: Don't toss your toothbrush just yet.)
We know that apples taste delicious. (We're partial to Granny Smiths, ourselves.) We know that apples are nutritious. But do we know that apples are good for our teeth?
Somehow, these heavenly fruits earned quite a reputation for themselves over the years with various health professionals. Still, the thought of apples as "nature's toothbrush" has our teeth feeling mighty furry over here.
While we can see why people boast that fibrous apples can help remove plaque from teeth, there are a few drawbacks to apples, and when eaten incorrectly, they can even cause some damage to your tooth enamel.
Read our guide below about the many pros and cons of trying to eat this delicious fruit to keep your teeth clean.
The Good and Bad of Apples: Do Apples Clean Your Teeth?
Apples are unquestionably great for your body – they’re loaded to the brim with antioxidants, minerals, vitamin C, and so much more!
So, they're good for your body, but are apples good for your teeth?
The truth is, apples are both good and bad for your dental health – we realize that's a little vague, so let us explain more about an apple's connection to your teeth.
The Toothy Benefits of Eating Apples
There are plenty of benefits your teeth, gums, and overall dental health can reap from eating a few apples each week.
Check out these apple dental hygiene facts:
- Apples can make your gums stronger. Apples contain vitamin C, which improves your gum health and strengthens them against infection, gum disease, swelling, and bleeding.
- Fiber is nature's toothbrush.Chewing a fresh, firm fruit like an apple will stimulate your gums as your teeth bite through the flesh – especially if you keep the skins on, so save an apple peelerlike this for when you're baking. Along with gum stimulation, eating raw apples can reduce harmful mouth bacteria and increase saliva flow, a natural reaction that jumpstarts your body's digestive processes. The chewing action also helps the apples clean teeth by scraping plaque off as you chew (sorry for that ghastly mental image).
- Apple contains bone-building minerals. One of the main minerals in apples is potassium, which helps build and maintain some strong and healthy bones – even the 32 small ones lining your mouth!
We can see why apples earn themselves the name "nature's toothbrush." Still, you won't see apple health dental care and an apple toothbrush replacing or comparing to modern dental advancements anytime soon.
Along with tooth care and dental health, apples offer plenty of health benefits outside of your mouth. The soluble fiber in fresh apples can keep you full for longer, which is especially helpful for anyone on a low-calorie diet. Apples also help to regulate blood sugar, which tends to have a positive effect on weight-loss efforts.
Apples can aid heart health and contain antioxidants, the key to fighting premature aging and removing toxins from the body.
The Dark Downsides of Apple Eating
Are apples bad for your teeth?
There are some undeniable dental health benefits to eating apples, but modern apples aren't quite as healthy as they once were. When combined with poor dental hygiene, apples may actually damage your teeth instead!
Apples & Acid Content
Apples are highly acidic foods, which tend to wreak havoc on our teeth's enamel and may cause acid erosion.
According to Dentistry Today, a study found one of the more startling dental hygiene facts about this fruit: apples may be up to four times worse for your teeth than a cup of soda, and fruit juices can damage tooth enamel significantly too.
Eating apples won't necessarily doom you to the fate of eroded and weakened teeth, but you should take some precautions if you make apple-eating a regular part of your diet.
- First, try to drink water immediately, or rinse your mouth with water after eating an apple to wash away some of the acid left behind.
- Eat an apple combined with other foods that help neutralize the acids. You may also consume milk, cheese, or other calcium-rich food. Acid leaches calcium from your tooth's enamel, so eating calcium-rich foods along with or after eating apples can help further neutralize the acid erosion.
- Eat your apples in one sitting, and don't drag out the snack. The longer you expose your teeth and gums to the acid, the longer its harmful effects will last on the teeth and your overall dental health – a shorter eating window will minimize the impact.
How long after eating fruit can you brush your teeth?
The worst thing to do for your dental health after eating highly acidic food is to brush your teeth, so wait at least 30 minutes to follow up "nature's toothbrush" with an actual toothbrush.
Eating acidic foods coats our teeth in acid, leaving our tooth enamel in a weakened state that makes it prone to further damage during brushing. Do a water rinse after eating, and then give your teeth some time to recover.
Apples have plenty of upsides, and a few downsides for your teeth too. Apples may prevent cavities by reducing plaque build-up, but you need to be careful to avoid acid erosion.
On top of that, modern apples contain more sugar than ever, with Gala, Pink Lady, and Fuji varieties containing 15% sugar – that's close to four teaspoons of sugar per apple!
Final Note: Do Apples Prevent Cavities?
Apples have plenty of upsides, as well as a few downsides for your teeth. Apples may be able to prevent cavities by reducing plaque build-up, but they also weaken acid.
We don't recommend using apples to strengthen and improve teeth health. Still, if you follow the guidelines above, you should be able to enjoy apples fairly regularly without causing excess acid erosion.
Keep heading to your regular dental check-ups and cleanings every six months or so, and ask your dental professional to monitor your tooth's acid wear – if they see anything problematic, they'll be sure to let you know.
Generally, the treatment for mild acid erosion is to bond a filling onto the tooth as a protective barrier to replace weak tooth enamel. In the worst cases, you may need inlays, onlays, or tooth crowns.
In the meantime, avoid acid erosion by brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush, toothpaste, followed by floss and some mouthwash – nothing beats the dental care designed by dental professionals when it comes to teeth health!