Fruit provides you with vital nutrients that keep your body healthy. Despite their benefits, consuming excessive amounts of these foods can damage your teeth. Past studies have shown that consuming 17 servings of fruit every day can increase your risk for dental caries (tooth decay). Although most people do not eat 17 servings, a recent study published in March 2015 suggests that a vegetarian diet involving higher fruit consumption might increase your risk of tooth decay.
Vegetarians and Fruit Consumption
The controlled clinical study took a sample of 100 vegetarians and 100 non-vegetarians to determine whether or not vegetarian eating habits impact oral health. Researchers conducted oral exams to record instances of tooth decay, tooth and enamel erosion, fillings, and undamaged tooth surfaces. Participants also participated in a questionnaire to assess eating habits, frequency of oral hygiene, and topical application of fluoride.
Results showed that vegetarians had more decay and erosion than non-vegetarians. Based on the questionnaire, vegetarians also consumed more fruit. Researchers tried to rule out other factors that might have caused these results. Although their results do not mean that higher fruit consumption in vegetarian diets increases the risk for dental caries and enamel erosion, it provides strong evidence.
Acid Damages Enamel
At first, it might seem like common sense to blame the sugars contained in fruits for enamel and tooth damage. Although these foods do contain a considerable amount of natural sugar, the amount is not concentrated enough (unless you drink juice) to do any significant harm. One of the possible reasons that consuming large amounts of fruit could damage your teeth is acidity.
Enamel begins to erode at a pH between 4.5 and 5.5, depending on the individual. The pH scale measures the acidity of a substance. Lower numbers indicate a higher acidity. Many fruits have a pH well below 5.5. The pH of most berries, for example, sits between 3.1 and 3.6, apples land between 3.3 and 3.9, and peaches fall in at 3.3 in most cases. Not all fruits have a high pH, however. Melons, papaya, and green mango typically start around a pH of 6.
Are You at Risk?
You shouldn’t stop eating fruit or avoid becoming a vegetarian based on the results of this study. These natural foods offer many vital nutrients such as vitamin C for gum health, calcium for strong enamel, and vitamin K for faster healing after dental work. If you follow the food pyramid’s suggestion of 3-4 servings of fresh fruit per day, you shouldn’t worry about the impact on your oral health. Check the labels of processed products such as popsicles, dried fruit, and juice because they typically contain added sugar.
Restoring Damaged Teeth
Excessive fruit consumption is just one of many circumstances that can cause dental caries. At Corpus Christi Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, we can repair the damage done by tooth decay. Tooth-colored fillings protect damaged teeth and prevent further damage. More advanced damage may require the use of a protective porcelain dental crown, carefully color-matched with the surrounding teeth for a natural look. You should treat your cavities before they become painful in order to prevent more severe damage. Untreated decay can cause painful infections and bone loss over time.
Damage to your enamel can also make your teeth more vulnerable to deep staining. You don’t have to live with a discolored smile. Teeth whitening and porcelain veneers can brighten your smile and give you a Hollywood-worthy appearance.
For more information about restoring your damaged smile, please call (361) 851-8274 for an appointment at Corpus Christi Center for Cosmetic Dentistry.