fruit and tooth decay

It has long since been recommended to consume five portions of fruit and vegetables per day to ensure that you’re giving your body enough vitamins and minerals found within these foods. Although dentists have warned about the acidity of some fruits (citrus fruits in particular) causing harm to teeth enamel, new links have been found between some fruits and a reduction in harmful bacteria inside the mouth.

Scientists have found that blueberries and cranberries contain polyphenols, which is a naturally occurring component that fights harmful bacteria that can live in the mouth. Essentially, the polyphenols make the environment unsuitable for this bacteria to cling effectively to the teeth, meaning it is unable to stick around and cause too much harm.

HARVESTING POLYPHENOLS

Although fruits contain natural sugars, the good news for polyphenols is that these are actually sugar-free. So, if used in isolation, do not cause any of the unwanted side effects that sugar can cause the mouth.

The other exciting revelation is that these polyphenols can be extracted and added to water or oral care products, therefore it is not only possible to ingest them by consuming the fruit. Dr Nigel Carter who is the Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation explains that polyphenols “can be added to oral care products in several ways … They can dissolve in water so can be used to create healthy drinks… and mouthwash could benefit from this ingredient, as could toothpastes”.

Development of these polyphenols is still in its infancy at the moment so more research will need to be done into the practicalities of this, but it certainly looks very positive.

BE MINDFUL OF NATURAL SUGAR CONTENT

Experts here at CK Dental are keen to remind patients that although this is very good news that these fruits can help kill harmful bacteria, it is important not to forget that all fruits contain natural sugars, so do need to be consumed in moderation. Anyone who has eaten a cranberry before will know that these are not particularly sweet so therefore do not contain as much natural sugar as many fruits. Blueberries, by comparison, tend to be much sweeter and their sugar content is unsurprisingly much higher. According to the Oral Health Foundation, “one portion of cranberries contains up to four grams of natural sugar (equivalent to one teaspoon) while a serving of blueberries is nearly ten grams.”

If you like the sound of these benefits and wish to weave cranberries and blueberries into your diet, it is advised to eat them at meal times rather than as a snack, as this minimises the amount of time that your teeth are exposed to other components contained within them, such as the naturally occurring sugar content and acidity.