As we become more health conscious, natural foods such as dried fruits are becoming more common in our diet. However, there is some debate as to whether a very popular dried fruit, raisins, are actually causing cavities or preventing them.
Recently, researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago found certain chemical constituents in raisins that were shown to suppress the growth of bacteria associated with gum disease and cavities.
This stands counter to long-held wisdom that raisins promote cavities, due to the fact that the sticky fruit snack stays on the teeth and produces cavity-causing acid as a result.
However, according to the research, raisins contain a compound that suppresses the growth of oral bacteria. And raisins mainly contain fructose and glucose sugars, which are not primary contributors of tooth decay like sucrose — the key player in sugar-related oral diseases — is. So does this mean we can eat raisins and not worry about tooth decay?
One Mom’s Story
A recent news article highlights the risk of eating too many dried fruits, including raisins. A mother whose young son had to have a tooth removed due to tooth decay found the culprit wasn’t the usual sodas and candy present in most kids’ diets, as this mother was conscientious about what her child ate. Instead, according to her son’s dentist, the culprit was the healthy dried fruit her son ate as a snack.
The sugars from the dried fruits stayed on the teeth, which created acids that over time destroyed the tooth’s enamel, leading to tooth decay.
While the child reportedly ate other dried fruits besides raisins, such as dried apricots that don’t have the same chemical constituents as raisins, it is obvious that any residual, sticky food will lead to dental caries if not removed.
Before you break out that box of raisins and consume it guilt-free, or decide to ditch all dried fruit from your diet altogether, remember these key points of dental health that will serve you well, regardless of your diet:
- Always brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove any food particles left on teeth, and floss between teeth once daily to clean those hard to reach areas and promote healthy blood flow to the gum tissue.
- Eat a diet high in natural, unprocessed foods, such as fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts, which help strengthen your immune system and improve the body’s ability to fight off bacteria and inflammation. This will in turn help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups to keep your oral health at its best.