Ask You Dentist: Can Pineapple Whiten Your Teeth?

Dentist Blog

Many Australians crave whiter teeth, and chemists and supermarkets now sell a broad range of teeth whitening products. Some fans of whiter teeth are reluctant to use chemical bleaching products, preferring instead to consider natural alternatives. Pineapple is a popular ingredient in desserts, cakes and cocktails, but some people also think this sweet tropical fruit can help them whiten their teeth. Find out if they're right.

How stains form

When you eat, particles of food and saliva combine to form a thin layer on your teeth and gums called pellicle. Dental pellicle is a glycoprotein, which acts as a protective barrier, but the build-up also offers a good base on which bacteria can form. Over time, bacteria will start to form on dental pellicle, eventually leading to dental plaque formation.

As part of this process, food and drink particles can easily stain dental pellicle. The shade and colour of your dental pellicle can vary according to the sort of ingredients you eat or drink regularly. For example, red wine contains tannins that can quickly darken your smile.

Scientific properties of pineapple

Certain chemicals (called proteases) help your body break down proteins, releasing valuable nutrients into your digestive system. As well as improving digestion, proteases also have anti-inflammatory properties, which are particularly useful when treating infection and injuries. Some studies even suggest that some proteases could help fight cancer.

Fresh pineapple is rich in a protease called bromelain. You will find the enzyme in ripe or unripe fruit, but the chemical is even present in the fruit's stem and leaves. As a protease, bromelain can naturally break down the glycoprotein in dental pellicle, helping remove stains and discolouration. Indeed, a study published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene showed that a bromelain whitening dentifrice enabled significant stain removal.

Risks to consider

Fresh pineapple is relatively acidic. Over time, this fruit acid can soften and erode the protective enamel layer on your teeth. As the enamel grows thinner, your teeth may become more sensitive. If you expose the dentin beneath the enamel, you could face the risk of tooth decay.

As such, it's important to make sure you get rid of excess acidity after you eat fresh pineapple. Rinsing with a glass of water or chewing sugar-free gum can help counter any excess acidity in your mouth. Notably, you shouldn't brush your teeth immediately after you eat fresh pineapple. The fruit's acidity can temporarily soften the enamel, allowing your toothbrush to cause permanent damage.

The chemicals in fresh pineapple can help you naturally whiten your smile, although you may need professional help to get rid of deeper stains. Contact your dentist for more advice.


31 August 2015

Teeth And Tears: Dental Dramas Of A School Nurse

I have worked as a school nurse for decades. Children come to me with all sorts of scrapes and bumps and bruises. Black eyes from playing football, sprained wrists from falling off the monkey bars and stomachaches from too many sweets are common complaints. However, the issue that seems to cause the greatest angst is tooth problems. Sometimes a child will have a second tooth knocked out when playing sport and parents arrive in tears. At other times, children come to my office crying because their friends are teasing them about teeth that are discoloured or stick out. I take an active interest in the latest dental news so that I can give parents and children comfort and advice. I have included some of my collected wisdom on these pages. Perhaps this information can help you understand some options when faced with a dental problem. Thank you for reading.