How Honey Can Both Damage and Help Your Teeth

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

When consumed regularly or in large amounts, the high sugar content of honey can damage your teeth. Honey’s sugar makeup can lead to tooth enamel breakdown and cavities forming. Therefore, honey should be consumed moderately, and paired with good oral hygiene habits. 

When consumed regularly, and without good oral hygiene, honey can have damaging effects on your teeth. Honey tends to be ~80% sugar, which promote generation of bacteria and acids in your mouth. Rinse your mouth with water after having a lot of honey, and brush regularly, to avoid problems.

Honey can have numerous other health benefits, such as preventing gingivitis, reducing inflammation, and other health bonuses related to honey’s antimicrobial qualities, so it’s not all bad! The key is to control your intake and practice brushing your teeth. 

What Is Honey?

Smiling young woman with bowl of honey on white background

With over 82% of honey being sugar, it’s safe to say honey can be very sweet. Along with that, honey is 30% glucose and less than 40% fructose. The sugar in honey consists of 50% fructose and another 50% glucose. 

And this ~80% number, you should know that’s a fuzzy metric. Honey doesn’t self-report it’s sugar content, and it’s different from brand to brand, but in an example like this BEEKEEPER’S NATURALS Raw Wildflower Honey (on Amazon), you can see that it has no protein, fat, or sodium, but it has 17g of carbs per serving and 16g of those carbs are sugar. So, regardless of the precise number, the takeaway is it’s mostly sugar!

The high sugar content of honey starts to blur the lines between sugar and honey, and their effect on our teeth overlaps a lot. Both honey and sugar provide bacteria nutrients to multiply in your teeth and form harmful acids, and these acids can then start to deteriorate the enamel of your teeth. Along with that, the bacteria can also cause plaque. 

Combined, the acidity and plaque give rise to cavities, tooth deterioration, gum infection, brittle teeth, sensitivity, and other problems which lead to tooth decay. 

Whether your mouth receives sugar content from sugar itself or the ample amounts present in honey, it will have similar effects. The differences are slight; honey contains more complex sugars, which means it can take longer to break down than traditional sugar.

The longer it takes, the more time it takes before harmful bacteria can start to multiply and form harmful acids in your mouth. Therefore, uncontrolled and frequent consumption of honey will surely harm your teeth and cause cavities as well as tooth decay. 

How Rising with Water and Brushing Manage the Oral Effects of Honey

These oral health effects don’t mean that you can’t eat honey! Here are some ways to consume honey regularly while taking care of your teeth: 

  • Washing your mouth with water will help rinse and clean all the remaining honey in your mouth. It prevents any honey sticking on your teeth and causing harmful bacteria. Rinsing with water does more than cleanse the teeth. It also serves another important function to help raise pH levels faster than what saliva can do alone. Water can act as a buffering agent to neutralize acids which will help promote faster changes to the oral environment by reducing the time of any acid attacks.
  • Brushing your teeth after consuming honey in a way that coats your teeth, or at least daily, will also help maintain your oral health.

Effects of Honey on Your Teeth

The high amount of sugars present in honey will have a harmful effect on your teeth. These sugars help produce and multiply the bacteria in your mouth; this turns into a sticky substance called plaque.

Other harmful acids are produced in your mouth as a result of these active bacteria and plaque, and these acids give rise to enamel erosion, gum sensitivity, cavities, tooth decay, and other dental diseases. 

With that said, honey can also positively affect your teeth and overall health when consumed in moderation. Due to the high amount of sweetness of honey, a small amount can have the same effect as using another sweetener in greater quantities, which will definitely harm your health. 

Vitamin C and calcium

Consuming honey can also help other aspects of your health, such as adding it to warm water helps speed up fat digestion. Honey is also packed with Vitamin C, iron, and calcium. 

The vitamin C present in honey helps strengthen teeth. The calcium present in honey will help strengthen the enamel of your teeth which helps fight against cavities, tooth decay, and brittle teeth. 

Preventing Gingivitis

One of the other main benefits of honey is preventing gum diseases such as gingivitis. A severe form of gum disease that takes place after having gingivitis, called periodontitis, will lead to your teeth wiggling out of place. The bacteria that make their way into the oral cavity cause inflammation and even more gum diseases. 

Mixing honey with water, hydrogen peroxide is produced, which helps kill harmful bacteria and microorganisms. By reducing and curbing these bacteria, honey helps decrease the production of harmful acids in your mouth. 

Furthermore, studies have shown that certain types of honey can help fight and curb cavities due to their antimicrobial properties. In addition to that, it can help inflammation in your mouth by simply placing it on the site. These antibacterial properties help to flush out all the harmful bacteria and cleans your mouth. 

However, to achieve maximum benefits from honey, there are some things you should be aware of, such as: 

Avoid “Ultra-Filtered” Honey

Honey Damage Your Teeth

The origin of the pollen is almost impossible to track down with ultra-filtered honey. This gives the manufacturer the advantage of tampering with the honey. Many times, honey can be diluted with corn syrup. This helps bring down the production price. Sometimes, it can even contain traces of heavy metals or illegal antibiotics. 

Know the Origin Point of Your Honey

The best place to get honey is usually locally. By doing this, you can minimize the risk of it being altered. Honey coming from local farms is usually the healthiest way to go. There are other options such as Manuka honey which comes from New Zealand; while it can be expensive, it’s known to have numerous health benefits. 

With all these benefits that honey tends to have for our body and teeth, it’s important to remember that honey is still largely sugar, and it will have the same effects on your teeth as any sugar would. This means excess consumption can lead to tooth decay and enamel breakdown. 

To take advantage of the benefits of honey and keep its harmful effects to a minimum, always consume in moderation and avoid consuming it regularly. rinsing your mouth with water will also help clean away any particles, and brushing your teeth regularly will also have a significant impact on curbing these harmful effects. 

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