Citrus – Too Much Of A Good Thing?
You are not alone if you find yourself reaching for more fruit during these hot summer days. Fruit is always an excellent snack choice considering its essential nutritional benefits for your health. Although all fruits contribute to your oral health in a positive way, there are some fruits that are better than others. Too much of a good thing can be said about citrus fruits and your smile.
Citrus fruits include oranges, grapefruit, pineapples, lemons and tangerines. There is no denying the fact that these fruits do offer an important abundance of Vitamin C. We need Vitamin C for healthy gums, as it is critical for maintaining its collagen. People with a Vitamin C deficiency often suffer from bleeding gums, which can lead to unstable teeth. Eating raw fruits, including citrus fruits, can also be helpful in saliva-production and cleansing your mouth.
While it is perfectly fine and even encouraged that you include citrus fruits in your diet, it does matter how you do it. Consuming citrus fruits too often or letting these acidic foods sit in your mouth for too long can invite trouble. In other words, eating a few oranges throughout the week won’t do any harm; yet sucking on a lemon every day can wreak havoc on your teeth.
The problem with citrus is its highly acidic properties, combined with significant sugar content. The acid from citrus fruits can coat your teeth and start to soften and erode your tooth enamel. Since enamel doesn’t grow back, you’ll find that your smile is now exposed to tooth decay and compromised to other dental health complications. Lemons and limes are especially harsh on your smile!
What You Can Do
If you just can’t let go of citrus foods in your daily diet, there are some steps you can take to ensure they do not damage your teeth. After you enjoy that orange or drink grapefruit juice, simply wash it down with a glass of water. You can wash away the harmful acids so that your tooth enamel is protected and your mouth maintains a proper pH balance. Try to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. Brushing too soon can actually abrade tooth enamel because your teeth may still be soft after the recent acid exposure.
It is important that you include fruits as a part of a well-balanced diet. However, take caution when it comes to citrus fruits and your smile. Too much of a good thing could ruin the healthy smile you are trying to promote!
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV, Gilreath Dental Associates