Before I dive into how bad orange juice is for your teeth I want to dispel some persistent rumors. The orange industry has done a great job marketing their product over the years, and the best marketing has been linked to health outcomes, namely introducing orange juice as part of a complete and balanced breakfast and highlighting its positive health effects, especially how the vitamin C content found in orange juice can help fight cold and flu symptoms. Sure, orange juice contains plenty of vitamins, including vitamin C, it might also be fortified with calcium, making it potentially helpful for strengthening your bones. Unfortunately, the main component of any fruit juice is fructose, a sugar that is not at all good for your teeth and is the same primary ingredient in soda. Also, despite its nutritional content, orange juice, and any other simple vitamin C supplement, will not do very much of anything to help your cold or flu symptoms. Here is a Harvard article on the subject. Consuming a daily supplement of vitamin C may have a small impact on your cold symptoms, but arguably not enough to offset the effects of tooth decay and fattening fructose in high quantities. I’m sorry, but OJ is not your magic cure-all.
What about your teeth? In a previous blog, we covered a large swath of beverages and how they can affect your oral hygiene. In that blog, we found a large set of beverages and fruits and their general pH levels (https://www.pickyourown.org/ph_of_fruits_and_vegetables_list.htm). That study found that oranges and orange juices have a pH range between 3.30 – 4.34. The ADA study confirmed these numbers. This places orange juice in the “erosive” and “minimally erosive” categories. That is substantially better than sodas or lemon juice.
Now an article from Science Daily sites a University of Rochester Medical Center paper claiming orange juice is worse for you than teeth whitening agents, which is a curious metric in my opinion. As I’ve shown, the pH of acidic orange juice is substantially less corrosive than typical sodas, so to say “The acid is so strong that the tooth is literally washed away,” as Dr. Ren did in the study seems very excessive. Though I’m not a dentist, so I’ll let you make your own conclusions.
If you are drinking orange juice every morning with breakfast, it might be a good idea to cut back, but the fructose sugars are far more of a problem than the slightly elevated acidity. I hope this article helps you make wiser beverage decisions. My intention is not to scare you away from your favorite juice, but rather to educate you without click-bait titles. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy and drink orange juice in moderation.