No Link Between Raisins and Tooth Decay
Dried fruit gets a bad reputation among dentists, but is there really a link between raisins and tooth decay?
Raisins and other dried fruit are delicious, sweet, and a good addition to salads, trail mixes or just on its own as a snack, but have also been blamed for promoting tooth decay. It turns out that the link between raisins and tooth decay may be weak. In fact, raisins and the grapes that they are made from may very well be helping to protect tooth health.
Three things need to be considered when talking about dental caries, or tooth decay: the acidity of the mouth environment, the stickiness of the food being eaten, and the bacterial content in the mouth. Sugar, as we’ve been told, is a favorite food of acid-producing bacteria in the mouth, and just a few minutes after swishing sugar water can be enough to get a reaction out of the microorganisms. Raisin bran cereal was tested and produced the same sort of results as sugar water, but the raisins in the cereal are crusted with sugar. Bran flakes on their own weren’t much better, but when raw raisins were added, it appeared they counteracted the bran.
When testing for stickiness it appears that raisins, and indeed plant foods in general, do not adhere very well to teeth. Furthermore, there are phytonutrients in raisins that prevent the bacteria themselves from adhering to teeth and help in discouraging the formation of plaque. Clearly, the concern about raisins and their link to dental caries is unfounded and wrong.