Fruit and potential impacts on children’s teeth
Most children love eating fruit: in fact, they are a great choice as a snack. They are a valuable source of vitamins and nutrients for your child’s overall health and wellbeing.
Some fruits, however, can be high in acid. This high acid content in many fruits and juices can cause enamel to lose its high mineral content rendering it weak and prone to sensitivity (to temperature changes and sweet foods) and decay. This erosion of enamel due to food acid is a slow process, however, can cause significant issues to the developing dentition in a child.
The pH value is a measure of how acidic the food is. Food that has a pH value of less than 7.0 is considered acidic; lower the pH, higher the level of acidity.
Here are some pH values of common fruits:
Lemon Juice (2.00 – 2.60); Limes (2.00 – 2.80); Cranberry Juice (2.30 – 2.52); 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)
But keep in mind there are plenty of fruits that have higher pH values and have. For example, rockmelons which are a great natural source of vitamin C, have a much less acidic pH of 6.13-6.58. Honeydew melons and bananas are other fruits that have high pH values.
It is important to be aware that fruit juices, preserves, jams, jellies and wines can also be quite acidic. (Interestingly other plant sources, including tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and kiwi, are also equally good sources of nutrients such as vitamin C)
Here are a simple few tips to help protect your child’s teeth particularly when they have a high fruit intake
- Be wary of sucking on lemons, limes or acidic fruits as these can soften your enamel.
- Using straws may decrease the amount of time your teeth are in contact with fruit juices.
- Rinse with water after eating fruit to dilute the acids in your mouth, and wait at least 30 mins to brush your teeth.
- Use fluoridated toothpaste.
- Ensure adequate breaks between meals and intake of snacks/fruits – the frequency of food intake is equally as important as the type of food a child eats
Ensure you have a good discussion with your child dentist regarding their diet to help establish good oral health practices, early in life.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics and to help begin the conversation with your children’s dentist. It should not be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your health care professional prior to incorporating this as part of your child’s diet or health regimen.