An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away… But How About the Dentist?
August 26, 20203 min read
Like many timeworn sayings, we often repeat these without really thinking about them. As kids, we all learned that apples=good health, but few of us, if any, ever investigated if that were true or not.
Since our business and interests lie more with oral health, than overall health, let’s just say that the idea of eating more fresh fruits and veggies is generally a plus in terms of your health and well-being.
But what about your oral health? Apples do contain quite a bit of natural sugars and even acids. How could they be good for your teeth?
It has long been held by many people that eating an apple, especially after a meal, was an effective way of cleaning the teeth. The idea was that the fiber in apples could clean away the plaque as well as stimulating saliva production (which helps to maintain pH in your mouth and saliva is a very important part of solid oral health).
But the studies that supported this idea were flawed and the question of the dental benefits of an apple still remained unclear.
The acidity levels of an apple are actually pretty high, and this effects the healthy alkaline pH of the saliva. When you raise the acid levels of the mouth, and there is food residue present, this creates the perfect environment for the growth of bacteria that make up dental plaque. This helps the process of tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. So, the combination of acid + food (from an apple) is not good for your mouth.
The cleansing effect (like scrubbing off plaque) that apples were thought to have does not hold up to studies. Not only is tooth brushing a much better way to eliminate plaque and bacteria, but the study showed that the plaque index AFTER eating an apple was actually higher! So, eating an apple is not a good way to remove plaque, it is better to stick to brushing your teeth.
Now, the big question, “Is there a benefit to your oral health from eating an apple?”
Perhaps, surprisingly at this point, there is some real benefit. An apple, as well as other fruits, have compounds called polyphenols. These polyphenols can be pretty potent and effective. In fact, studies have shown that the polyphenols from apples are actually pretty effective at inhibiting the formation of plaque.
The polyphenols also seem to be pretty good in the fight against cavity formation. This is due to their ability to inhibit how bacteria processes food and also by reducing how bacteria can stick to your teeth. Basically, the natural components in apples help to inhibit the bad bacteria in your mouth and so have a beneficial effect upon your oral health.
In conclusion, eating an apple can be good for your teeth BUT does not replace tooth brushing or flossing, at all. So keep up the brushing and flossing.
And, just for good measure, it would be a wise idea to give your mouth a quick rinse of water any time after eating apples or fruits. This does not have to be done immediately. In fact, it is often better to wait 20 minutes or so after eating before rinsing, this allows the saliva to go to work directly after eating.