Are oranges bad for your teeth?

Oranges are a popular fruit here in the UK – their zesty, citrusy smell make us think of summer and the Mediterranean, making them a potent cure for cold weather and the winter blues.

But are oranges bad for our teeth? In this post, we’ll answer this question. We’ll also give you some tips on how to enjoy oranges and other fruits while minimising damage to your teeth and your smile.

The bad points about oranges

  • Sugar. While oranges are usually perceived as healthy, they’re actually not very good for your teeth. One reason is for this is that they’re high in sugar. The average orange contains 12.2g g of sugar, according to nutritiondata.self. To put it into perspective, this is roughly the same amount of sugar in a third of a can of coke.
  • Acidity. Sugar is just one part of the problem; acidity is another. Oranges are a particularly acidic food, with their pH ranging from 3.7 to 4.3, according to one academic source. While they’re not as acidic as lemons (pH of 2.0 to 2.6) or limes (pH of 2.0 to 2.8), oranges are still more acidic than most other foods. What’s so bad about acidity? Well, it erodes your enamel, which is the protective outer layer of your teeth. When this happens, your teeth can become sensitive and cavities are more likely to occur.

The good points about oranges

Even though they’re high in sugar and acid, oranges aren’t all bad. After all, they also contain vitamins and minerals that promote healthy teeth and gums. For example, they’re high in vitamin C, which your body needs to keep the connective tissues of your gums strong. Then there’s also the fact that oranges are high in fibre, which is good for your digestive health.

How can I eat oranges without damaging my teeth?

When you eat an orange, it’s impossible to completely negate the effects of the sugar and acid on your teeth. However, you can reduce the harm done by using the following tips:

  • Have a sip of water after eating an orange. Water has a neutral pH which means it will help neutralise the acidity of the orange.
  • Eat the orange quickly. This might sound counter-intuitive but it’s better to eat your orange quickly rather than slowly. That’s because by eating it quickly, you’re reducing the amount of time that your teeth are under attack from sugar and acid.
  • Don’t eat oranges as a snack. It’s best to leave oranges for mealtimes, as dessert or part of a salad, for example. This way, it reduces the number of times that your teeth are under attack throughout the day.
  • Don’t brush your teeth after eating an orange. You might think it’s a good idea to brush your teeth after eating oranges. In reality though, brushing your teeth immediately after eating oranges is a bad idea. This is because oranges are very acidic, and the acid can soften your enamel for up to an hour. If you brush your teeth while your enamel is soft, you can damage it. So after eating an orange, wait for an hour before brushing your teeth.

Now that you know about oranges, think twice before eating one as a snack – why not have carrot sticks and hummus instead?

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