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Tooth Talk with Brinkley Dental Group – Citrus – Friend or Enemy?


As the song goes, “Summertime and the living is easy……” All you have to do for a refreshing summer snack is dive into a yummy citrus-based snack tray for something delicious, light, sweet and with the added bonus of being good for you! Or is it? What is the real truth when it comes to citrus fruits and citrus type beverages and the potential impact they might have on your teeth? Today, we’re about to answer the question, is citrus your friend or your enemy?

Of course the answer to that question, like so many other answers, is not quite so simple. The reality is unless you have an allergy, citrus fruits are good for you! They are chock full of vitamins, particularly vitamins B and C. These are great for your immune system and minerals your body needs. They’re also good as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. These fruits are a good source of fibre and low in calories for those watching their caloric intake. Citrus fruits include:

  • Oranges
  • Mandarins
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Grapefruit
  • Clementines and more

Unfortunately, here’s what citrus fruits might not be that great for – your teeth! Citrus fruits have the ability to cause cavities as a result of damage to your enamel. Here’s what we mean. Citrus fruits (as those of you with acid reflux will already know!) contain excessive amounts of acid. The acid from the fruit can break down tooth enamel, making you more susceptible or at least vulnerable to the development of cavities in the first place. If you take it in the form of a favourite fruit juice, the potential damage is even worse as many juices contain a great deal of sugar. The link between too much sugar and your teeth has already been well defined so while we won’t explore it further here, let’s just all agree it’s not good! Finally, we know many who say they can’t stand the “taste” of plain water and will squeeze a bit of lemon or lime in to their water to make it more palatable. Believe it or not, even this small amount of citrus can have a detrimental impact on your teeth as essentially, by sipping citrus flavoured water, you are “bathing” your teeth in acids all day long.

What can you do? Certainly the team here at Brinkley Dental has long advocated for the relationship between good health and good oral health. Eating citrus-based fruits are good for your overall health and if you are careful, the benefits outweigh the potential for damage in the form of tooth decay. We urge you find a balance that keeps both your Doctor and your Dentist happy. Go ahead and eat the citrus but make sure you also take the time to drink plenty of PLAIN water to help wash away the acids AND make sure you brushing your teeth at least 2x per day. In a perfect world, you’d take the time to brush your teeth right after consuming citrus, but we do understand that the world is most often not a perfect place! You can further help minimize damage by making citrus part of your meal, rather than as a snack that is eaten alone.

In short, practice good oral hygiene and go ahead and eat the orange. Make sure citrus is a friend not an enemy and everyone will be happy: you, your body, your Doctor and your Dentist! We’ll leave you as we always do with this friendly reminder, in the meantime ”don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”

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