Fruit Snacking Can Cause Tooth Decay, Erosion, Dentists Warned

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A combination photo shows local fruits in a market in Recife
IN PHOTO: A combination photo shows local fruits in a market in Recife REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Consuming fruits outside of regular meal times had been found to cause tooth decay, and thus should not be practiced anymore, dentists suggested. The level of acid contained in fruits and other fruit sources are too high, which may erode the teeth’s enamel and subsequently cause dental problems.

Intake of food items with higher level of acid compared to carbonated drinks puts individuals at a high risk of possible continuous tooth erosion, experts warned. This is particularly true amongst those who gulp fruit juices and smoothies more frequently than others.

Tooth decay is often referred to as a disorder of the poor and those who have low nutritional intake; however recent studies have discovered that progressive erosion of the tooth enamel is now more linked to individuals from the higher class. This may have something to do with more British people snacking on fruits compared to other Europeans, suggested David Bartlett, professor of prosthodontics at King’s College London. “[The British] did seem to have a higher fruit intake when we looked at the data,” he said. “I’m not sure why.”

According to a recent research, the worst rates of tooth erosion in Western Europe have been recorded in Britain. Fifty-four percent of young adults have shown signs of severe deterioration, which is nearly double the average incidence across the continent. This then prompted dental experts to consider this finding as a major public health issue.

Fruits are beneficial and adequate intake is essential for health; however, Bartlett said people should limit their intake during mealtimes only. Snacking on highly-acidic fruits, such kiwis, oranges and grapes throughout the day can leave the tooth enamel prone to consistent acidic attacks, without having ample time to repair. “It’s not what you eat,” he noted. “It’s how you eat it. People snack on fruit all day because they’re told that fruit’s good for you, but what you’ve got to do is modify the intake and keep it to meal times.” He confirmed that it is all about the frequency and habits.

According to Bartlett, the drinks with the highest titratable acidity are fruit juices and thus are significantly attributed to tooth erosion. Furthemore, white wine was also said to contain more acid than soft drinks and fizzy juices.

People should limit their snack times to two times per day to prevent wearing and decaying their teeth, said professor Andrew Eder, professor of restorative dentistry and associate vice-provost at University College London. He recommended the public to gargle fluoride rinse after lunch and use fluoridated toothpaste twice a day for optimal protection.

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