Most people love eating fruits: they're sweet and juicy, and the high vitamin C content (especially in fruits like oranges, strawberries and grapefruits) make them particularly good choices for both your dental and overall health. Some fruits, however, have a high acid content and can also be damaging to the enamel of your teeth. But you can still reap the health benefits of acidic fruits if you know which ones pose the greatest risk and how to keep your teeth safe while eating them.
A food's acid content is measured based on its pH value. Foods with a pH above 7 are considered alkaline, whereas those with a pH below 7 are acidic. The lower the pH, the higher the level of acidity. Here are the 13 most acidic fruits and their pH value.
Lemon Juice (2.00 – 2.60)
Limes (2.00 - 2.80)
Cranberry Juice (2.30 – 2.52)
Blue Plums (2.80 – 3.40)
Grapes (2.90 – 3.82)
Pomegranates (2.93 – 3.20)
Grapefruits (3.00 – 3.75)
Blueberries (3.12 – 3.33)
Pineapples (3.20 – 4.00)
Apples (3.33 – 4.00)
Peaches (3.30 – 4.05)
Mangos (3.40 – 4.80)
Oranges (3.69 – 4.34)
The good news? You don't always have to eat these high-acidic fruits to get the vitamin C your body needs. Melon, for example, is one of the best natural sources of vitamin C, and with a relatively high pH (6.13 – 6.58), it's much less acidic than many other fruits with a similar vitamin content. Green melons, watermelon and bananas are also good choices for this reason. Just be aware that fruits in the form of juices, wine, jams and jellies – or when canned or frozen – are still acidic in nature.
As hard as tooth enamel is, the high acid content in many fruits and fruit juices can cause it to weaken and demineralise over time. These softened areas of enamel may then become discoloured, sensitive to extreme temperatures or sweet foods, and eventually need special types of repair. The calcium in saliva can help strengthen enamel,, but when the environment in your mouth is too acidic, remineralisation will not occur.
You don't have to give up fruit to prevent erosion. Here are a few simple tips to keep your teeth healthy while getting the vitamin C you need:
- Never suck on lemons, limes or any highly acidic fruit. Putting these fruits against your teeth for any period of time is a sure way to soften the enamel on your teeth.
- Use a straw when drinking fruit juices. This keeps the juice from coming in direct contact with your teeth.
- Rinse with water after eating fruit to dilute the acids in your mouth, and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing to give your enamel time to resettle.
- Keep your enamel strong by brushing with fluoridated toothpaste.
- Eat cheese after fruit. This raises the pH levels in your mouth and increases saliva production, which also helps neutralise acids. Certain compounds in cheese adhere to tooth enamel, protecting it from various acids in food.
Vitamin C plays a major role in the growth, maintenance and repair of your body's vital tissue. This includes your bones, cartilage and teeth. In fact, it has been suggested that vitamin C keeps your body equipped to heal wounds and fight infections – gum problems included.
Your body cannot manufacture or store vitamin C by itself, though, so you need to get your daily requirement by eating foods that are rich in it. Vitamin C is found in all fruits and vegetables, but some of the best fruit sources are melon, citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, as well as kiwis, mangos, pineapples, watermelon and several types of berries.
Health professionals will always recommend eating a balanced diet with lots fruits and veggies so that you get enough vitamin C, as long as you take precautions to keep the most acidic fruits from hurting your teeth. That way, you can have your fruit and eat it too.