Fruits and Dental CariesThis is a featured page

Mok Li Qian


The Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy's report (Department of Health,1989) on dietary sugars and human disease concluded that ‘fresh fruits, as eaten by humans, also appear to be of low cariogenicity,’ and ‘in order to reduce the risk of dental caries, the COMA Panel recommends that consumption of non-milk extrinsic sugars by the population should be decreased. These sugars should be replaced by fresh fruit, vegetables and starchy foods.’


Animal Experiment

One of the largest experimental series investigating the cariogenicity of fruits in animals was conducted in the USA (Stephan, 1996). The results are shown in the below table:

Dental caries scores in groups of rats fed a basic non-cariogenic diet, together with types of fruits and vegetables
Food tested Mean caries score
Control 0
Peanuts 0
Lemons 0
Cabbage 0
Lettuce 0
Dried apricots 0
Oranges 0
Spinach 0.6
Carrots 2.1
Figs 10.3
Apples 19.4
Bananas 21
Grapes 21.4
Raisins 30.9
Dates 32.7
Sucrose 62.1

As a result, the author stated ‘this finding fails to support the frequently voiced opinion that foods with naturally-occurring sugars (sucrose, dextrose, fructose, or maltose), such as fruits, are non-cariogenic, or that fruits in general contain some unknown protective substances which presumably render them non-cariogenic’. From this experiment, we can infer that different types of fruits have various extents of cariogenic potential: Citrus appears to have no association with the development of dental caries; fresh fruits such as apples, bananas and grapes appear to result in the occurrence of dental caries; whereas dried fruits such as dates and raisins have high cariogenicity. Nevertheless, the cariogenic effects of the various types of fruits and vegetables are far lower than that of sucrose itself.



Considering the present evidence, promoting the consumption of fresh fruits in order to curtail the intake of non-milk extrinsic sugars proves to be likely to reduce the prevalence of dental caries.

Click here to read about the cariogenicity of Starch, or here to read about the cariogenicity of Milk



1. Department of Health (1989). Dietary Sugars and Human Disease. Report of the Panel
on Dietary Sugars of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. Report
on Health and Social Subjects 37. London: HMSO.

2. Rugg-Gunn, A. J., & Hackett, A. F. (1993). Nutrition and dental health. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

3. Stephan, R. M. (1966). Effects of different types of human foods on dental health in experimental animals. J Dent Res, 45(5), 1551-1561.

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