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Does Honey Promote Tooth Decay?

by
author image Peter Mitchell
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.
Does Honey Promote Tooth Decay?
Honey may seem natural and safe, but it can harm your teeth. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images

Like most sugary foods, honey can promote tooth decay. Honey does have other health benefits, but it also contains a very high percentage of natural sugars. Sugar in the diet triggers acid erosion of the teeth, particularly if you eat sugary snacks often. Honey may also stick to your teeth and the inside of your mouth for longer, increasing the chance of the damaging teeth.

Tooth Decay

Your teeth consist of four main layers. Enamel on the outside of the tooth offers a hard, protective surface for chewing and biting into food. Dentin, a softer layer, lies beneath the enamel. These upper layers protect the pulp below, an area containing nerves and blood. At the very base is the root. Tooth decay erodes each layer, eventually rotting its way through to the root. This can cause discomfort and eventually severe pain. Bacteria in your mouth create acid, which attacks your teeth, particularly when you eat sugar, such as that found in honey.

Honey Sugars

Sugars make up around 82 percent of honey, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. That's around 17 grams of sugar per tablespoon of honey. Glucose and fructose make up most of the available sugar. Though these are natural sugars, they still provide fuel for the bacteria that cause tooth decay. According to information from the University of Wisconsin Extension, honey is just as likely to damage teeth as eating standard sugar.

Prevention

Rinsing your mouth with clean, fresh water after eating honey may help prevent it from sticking to your teeth and coating your mouth for too long. Avoid rinsing with soda or sugary drinks. For extra protection, brush your teeth with toothpaste after eating honey. If you're very worried about tooth decay, then you should avoid eating honey altogether. The high sugar content makes it one of the more damaging substances when it comes to your oral health.

Considerations

Some parents choose honey to give to their children in the mistaken belief that it will harm teeth less than ordinary sugar. However, honey does rot children's teeth, particularly if eaten frequently. MedlinePlus site suggests that parents should never dip a small child's pacifier in honey in an effort to soothe the child. The honey may trigger tooth decay in your child.

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