The famed expression "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" sort of applies to the dentist. An apple a day can keep the dentist away depending on the choices you make after eating that apple.
While apples are packed with important vitamins, minerals and fiber, they pose a mixed bag for dental health. On the positive end, they are excellent for doing some light cleaning. An apple's crunch and the work it takes to chew stimulates the production of saliva. The combination of saliva and the chewing help to remove plaque that has built up around your teeth and gum line. Plaque is harmful to the mouth and can lead to cavities and gum disease. In spite of its cleaning properties, apples should not be used as substitute for brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste at least twice daily and flossing.
The dental concerns about apples are their sugar content and acidity, which is a trademark of several varieties including Granny Smiths. Sugar and acid can be culprits for dental problems. Sugar may result in dental decay (cavities). Additionally, lowering the pH in the mouth and creating an acidic environment may lead not only to cavities due to tooth demineralization but also to erosion of the tooth enamel, a protective layer on the teeth.
So what's the best way to eat an apple, but look out for dental health?
When eating an apple, it's a good idea to pair it with a piece of cheese to neutralize the sugar and acid by getting the saliva flowing. When saliva is produced, it helps to counteract sugar and acid. If you can't eat cheese or don't have a piece around, drinking water can do the trick. The water will wash away some of the sugar and acid. Of course as stated above, there's no substitute for brushing your teeth. So, the best way to care for your teeth after eating an apple is to first rinse with water to stabilize the acidity in your mouth and then to brush your teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste.
Happy apple picking! What's your favorite type of apple?