Ignore your dentist, he’s only bothered about your mouth

September 27, 2019 6:33 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Dentists have a bit of a thing about dried fruit. They’re often quoted in the media, or found popping up on parenting websites, telling parents that raisins are worse than sweets, and that getting your toddler hooked on dried mango is unforgivable. Yet as dried fruit continues to be a popular snacking choice amongst children and adults (many of whom have a full set of healthy teeth), it’s clear that many people simply refuse to believe their dentist (or to act on their warnings). What’s going on? Why do dentists care – and why do so few of us listen?

Has your dentist noticed you've been eating raisins?

Why do dentists hate raisins?

Dentist dislike raisins because they get stuck in your teeth and there, the sweet sugar acids in them destroy tooth enamel, leading to decay. There’s many a story/urban myth of a thoroughly middle-class parent visiting the dentist to discover that their child’s poor teeth have been irreparably damaged by a handful of raisins each day.

Professor William Bowen of Rochester University in New York is firm on the subject. “Raisins are one of the worst agents in promoting tooth decay…raisins fed to experimental animals induce even more decay than pure sugar”, he asserts.

Why do the rest of us like them?

Raisins, however, aren’t pure sugar – they’re full of other stuff too, as is all dried fruit. At Naturally Good Food we sell dried fruit not as an occasional treat, but rather as an important part of a healthy diet. Rich in fibre and antioxidants, and packed with a whole host of vitamins and minerals, it builds strong bones, organs and muscles, regulates our bodies’ vital systems and wards off unpleasant diseases. Teeth matter, of course, but so does the body to which they’re attached.

Let’s take a look at raisins in particular. They’ll give you a good helping of:

  • Fibre: fibre keeps your digestive system in good shape, your blood sugar stable, maintains healthy cholesterol and adjusts blood pressure levels. Through these actions, it protects us from heart disease, strokes, diabetes and certain cancers.
  • Iron: iron is for energy. It’s what our bodies use to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around our body. For those not obtaining iron from animal sources, dried fruit is a particularly good thing to include in a diet.
  • Calcium: calcium is one of the building blocks of strong teeth, as well as strong bones. It also helps our blood clot, our muscles contract and our nerves send messages.
  • Boron: boron is a ‘balancer’ and a ‘handler’ within our bodies. It creates and maintains a good balance of sex hormones and ensures that our bodies handle other vitamins and minerals correctly.
  • Antioxidants: antioxidants prevent or slow the oxidative damage caused by free radicals in the body, which can include the development of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and heart disease.

And that’s just the big stuff! You’ll also find vitamin C, folate, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, pantothenic acid, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and sodium in raisins, according to nutritionists.

Of course, very few of us eat raisins specifically to obtain a good helping of boron. We eat them simply because they’re very tasty and, we rightly deduce, better for us than a handful of sweets when we feel peckish. The good news is that they’re just as sweet for our bodies as they are for our tastebuds!

Open wide!

 

It seems that even some dentists are coming round to a different point of view. Here’s an extract from Colgate.com:

‘New research counters a longstanding public perception that raisins promote cavities. In fact, it suggests the contrary.

“Phytochemicals in raisins may benefit oral health by fighting bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease,” says Dr. Christine D. Wu, lead author of a study at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.

Phytochemicals are antioxidants found in plants. One of the five phytochemicals the study identified in raisins is oleanolic acid. In the study, oleanolic acid inhibited the growth of two species of oral bacteria: Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities, and Porphyromonas gingivalis, which causes periodontal disease.

“Foods that are sticky do not necessarily cause tooth decay,” says Dr. Wu. “It is mainly the added sugar – the sucrose – that contributes to the problem. Moreover, raisins contain mainly fructose and glucose, not sucrose, the main culprit in oral disease.’

How to safely eat raisins

Everything in moderation, of course: it’s not a good idea to eat nothing but raisins (or any other dried fruit). There’s also some helpful advice out there on the ‘safest’ way to eat raisins, so that you obtain the full health benefits, without risking tooth health:

  • if you’re eating a portion of raisins, eat it all in one go, rather than snacking on it over the course of a day. Your saliva will naturally manage the sugary environment in your mouth, repairing microscopic damage to your teeth caused by sugar, but it needs a clear stretch of time to do this.
  • eat raisins along with other foods, including savoury foods (raisins work brilliantly in curries, stews and pilafs, for instance). Your saliva will be stimulated by the other ingredients and will naturally deal with the sugary oral environment during the course of the mealtime (and immediately afterwards).
  • if you’ve eaten a lot of sweet food, nibble a bit of cheese afterwards, to modify the acidic environment in your mouth.
  • and of course…. brush your teeth regularly!

For teeth-brushing, you can’t do better than check out our range of dentist-approved toothpastes! We stock cruelty-free toothpastes from Kingfisher and Green People at Naturally Good Food. These don’t rely on artificial colourings, flavourings, sweeteners or preservatives and use no animal ingredients or testing whatsoever. You’ll find interesting flavours in their ranges, such as fennel, citrus, aloe vera, baking soda and charcoal. We also stock organic mouthwash from Organii, in two flavours: Aloe and Citrus and Aloe and Eucalyptus – they too are made only with natural ingredients.

Raisins to be cheerful

We’d be ready to argue with a dentist over the pros and cons of eating raisins – but it’s hard to talk properly when lying down with your mouth wide open. We hope we’ve managed to convince you, however. We’re big fans of dried fruit at Naturally Good Food – particularly the organic kind – for its taste, its versatility and its health benefits. Why not try some of our wonderful raisins today? Or our juicy sultanas, bright little currants, deep, rich apricots, toffee-like dates, sticky prunes or fragrant figs?

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This post was written by Yzanne

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