How Citrus Affects Your Oral Health

woman with citrus fruits

Many people know the importance of a balanced diet. This generally includes lots of fruits and vegetables among other important nutrients. However, did you know that citric acid in citrus fruits can actually hurt your oral health? Any type of acid that comes in contact with your teeth can damage your tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. This acid is found in fruits, juices, sodas and other substances. Find out how citrus affects your oral health!


Citrus Can Help Your Overall Health

Eating fruit brings many health benefits such as reducing your risk for chronic conditions. Fruit provides the following benefits to your overall health:

  • It’s high in fiber, which keeps your digestive tract moving.
  • Fruit is high in vitamin C, helping your immune system function better.
  • Fruits are also high in many other vitamins and minerals.
  • They are known to be full of antioxidants, which are substances that help your body repair damaged cells.
  • Fruits are full of folate. This is a mineral that helps a growing fetus develop properly.
  • Eating more fruits can reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.


assorted citrus fruits

The Effects of Citrus on Your Oral Health

You may have heard of citric acid before. This is a naturally-occuring acid that is found in citrus fruits. Your body also makes citric acid that your body needs for cellular uptake. Citric acid that you ingest helps this cellular uptake, but that acid can also damage your teeth in the process. Acids erode, and citric acid erodes your tooth enamel when drinking or eating.


You can’t really get past the citrus coming in contact with your teeth in some way. However, you can drink through a straw to limit the acid’s contact with your teeth. Carbonated drinks also have acid (carbonic acid) in them. Whether you drink something carbonated or something citrus, make sure you wait about 30 minutes afterwards to brush your teeth. Follow citrus fruits or drinks with water and then brush and floss your teeth so that the acid doesn’t stay on your teeth. Brushing your teeth immediately could potentially take off some of your tooth enamel, which is why you want to wait 30 minutes. If you eat or drink many citrus fruits or drinks without proper brushing and flossing, over time you can experience tooth erosion. Some people also have their teeth yellow over time due to food dyes.


Limiting Sugar to Reduce Tooth Decay

You never want to only eat fruits all day long. One, you won’t be getting the nutrients you need from other food groups such as vegetables. Two, you will be ingesting a high amount of sugar that can lead to tooth decay. Fruits in general have a lot of sugar in them, which makes them so sweet. It’s much easier to eat a container of fruits than it is veggies for many people because of their sugar content.


Although sugar is sweet, it’s not so sweet to your oral health. Sugar is the food that plaque thrives on. In fact, it is the substance that makes up the plaque in your mouth. When you eat, sugars in your food and drink mix with certain bacteria in the mouth. Some bacteria helps you with digestion, whereas other bacteria will combine with sugar. That combination makes an acidic substance (plaque) that sticks to your teeth and works to erode away the tooth enamel. Simply drinking water doesn’t get rid of plaque either. You have to brush and floss it away, physically removing it from your teeth. If you don’t, plaque will erode your tooth enamel, eventually decaying your tooth. This is why it is known as “tooth decay”, which you will also know by the names of “cavities” or “dental caries”. The more sugar you ingest, the more plaque your mouth can make.

citrus drinks


Know Your Limits

Anything can become bad for you if you use it in the wrong way or the wrong amount. Eating fruits can be good for your health, but only in recommended amounts. Too much fruit can cause digestive upsets such as diarrhea or constipation. It can also give your body more sugar than it needs, which can actually increase your risk for chronic conditions. Plus, the more citrus fruits you eat, the more your teeth come in contact with sugars and acids. This leads to tooth erosion and decay.


The key here is to know your limits when it comes to citrus fruits and any other substance you put in your body. Then, after you put food and drink into your body, make sure you follow it by brushing and flossing your teeth. These simple guidelines will ensure that you can work towards having better health, while keeping your teeth in great shape. To learn more about how citrus fruits and drinks affect your teeth and what other substances to limit, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-8425!