Oral Health Benefits Of Kiwi

  • Lenee CastelynPostgraduate diploma, Public Health, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Can Kiwis Be Your Ticket to a Healthier Mouth?

YES! This soft, green fruit boasts an impressive array of nutrients that promote dental wellness. Among these are vitamin C, the enzyme actinidin, and fibre, each playing a vital role in maintaining optimal oral health. 

Vitamin C, in particular, is crucial for the generation of collagen, a protein which is essential to the structure and strength of teeth.1

Actinidin enzymes help break down the sticky membrane that holds harmful bacteria in place on the tooth surface.2 

Fibre stimulates the production of saliva, which removes food waste and bacteria. In addition, kiwi’s high water content hydrates the mouth and helps prevent bad breath.  

Let’s delve deeper into the various ways these delectable fruits contribute to a healthier mouth. 

  • Improves saliva secretion and maintains oral balance: Sufficient saliva production is essential to maintain a healthy mouth. Saliva acts as a natural cleanser which helps to remove food particles and bacteria, neutralise acids and remove plaque. Kiwi is rich in water and fibre, stimulates saliva production and promotes a healthy mouth.4
  • Reduces oral bacterial load and prevents infection: Kiwi, especially the enzyme actinidin, has antibacterial properties that help fight bad bacteria in the mouth. Actinidin’s ability to break down plaque and disrupt bacterial attachment reduces the overall bacterial load, minimising the risk of oral infections.2
  • Protects tooth enamel and prevents tooth decay: Vitamin C, an important component of kiwifruit, plays a key role in protecting tooth enamel from erosion and decay. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, strengthens the protective layer around the teeth while neutralising harmful free radicals that can damage enamel. Actinidin, together with Vitamin C, contributes to the protection of enamel by breaking down plaque and preventing acid attacks.1,3
  • Improves oral hydration and reduces dry mouth: Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can seriously affect your oral health. Kiwi’s high water and fibre content helps keep the mouth hydrated, preventing dry mouth and associated problems such as increased plaque build-up, difficulty  swallowing and increased risk of caries. 
  • Supports dental health and reduces inflammation
  • Healthy teeth are essential for maintaining general and oral health. Kiwi contains Vitamin C and actinidin, which promotes gum/gingival health by reducing plaque, inflammation (gingivitis) and gingival/gum recession.1,3 Improve oral hygiene and complete dental care

Regular dental care is the foundation of oral health. However, kiwis can be a valuable addition to your dental hygiene practice. The unique combination of nutrients and enzymes can further improve oral health by promoting healthy gums, preventing caries and maintaining a balanced oral microbiome. 

Ditch the citrus, embrace the kiwi: A fruit that's kind to your smile!

Unlike highly acidic fruits, which gradually erode tooth enamel when eaten regularly, kiwis offer a balanced pH and sugar profile that does not feed enamel-damaging oral bacteria. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit contain high levels of acids, which over the years can microscopically dissolve the surface layer of enamel, leading to sensitivity and tooth decay.6

Even fruits that have not yet reached citrus acidity pose a threat to pH levels in the mouth. Dried fruit contains highly concentrated natural fructose and glucose levels and fruit juice removes pulp and protective fibres, leaving behind pure sugar without the protective mechanisms.5

Kiwis, on the other hand, provide many vitamins and minerals that benefit oral health without increasing the risk of acidity or sugar levels. Thus, kiwi provides healthy nutrition without damaging enamel and promoting dental health and overall well-being. 

Four mouthwatering paths to a kiwi-charged smile

Adding kiwi fruit to your diet is a simple yet effective way to take advantage of the many oral health benefits. 

  • Raw: To maximise the nutritional value of kiwi, eat it whole or sliced for a refreshing and nutritious snack. 
  • Smoothies: Blend kiwis into smoothies for added vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants. 
  • Sauce: Add kiwi to the sauce for flavour and sweetness.
  • Salads: Add kiwi to salads for a colourful and nutritious addition. 

Kiwi delights: Unveiling the myths and misconceptions

Although Kiwi has many benefits for oral health, there are some common concerns associated with its consumption. Below is an overview of these problems and solutions. 

Sensitivity of Teeth

Acidity levels may raise concerns about its effect on sensitive teeth. However, kiwi is relatively low in acidity and contains a natural enzyme called actinidin, which helps to break down plaque and reduces the risk of acid erosion of tooth enamel. In addition, kiwi’s high water content helps neutralise stomach acid and protect teeth.2

Allergies

Kiwi is generally considered safe for most people, but some people may experience allergic reactions. 

Common symptoms of kiwi allergy include: 

  • Rashes 
  • Hives 
  • Itching
  • Swelling of lips or tongue7

If you experience these symptoms after consuming kiwi, it is best to avoid them in the future. 

Role of kiwis in complementary dental care 

It is important to note that kiwi fruit should not be considered a substitute for regular dental care. Proper brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups remain important for overall oral health. Kiwi can be an excellent addition to a healthy diet, but should not replace recommended oral hygiene practices. 

FAQs

How much kiwi should I eat per day to see oral health benefits?

Two kiwis a day are an excellent source of vitamin C and actinidin. However, moderation is important because eating too much kiwis can cause digestive problems.1

How can I maintain overall oral health?

In addition to adding kiwi and other healthy foods to your diet, it’s important to brush and floss twice a day, see your dentist regularly, and do not smoke. Following these tips can help keep your mouth healthy and smiling. 

Is there a special way to eat kiwi fruit for optimal oral health benefits?

Eating kiwi fruit raw is the best way to prevent its nutrients and enzymes. It can be enjoyed neat, processed into smoothies or added to salads. 

Is kiwi fruit suitable for people with braces or sensitive teeth? 

Kiwi is generally safe for people with braces or sensitive teeth. However, if you feel uncomfortable, it is better to peel or choose soft fruits like bananas or papaya. 

Can kiwi be used instead of toothpaste?

No, kiwi should not be used directly as toothpaste. Abrasive structures can damage tooth enamel. However, adding kiwi to your diet can benefit your overall oral health. 

Besides kiwi, what can I eat for oral health benefits?

Many other fruits and vegetables are good for oral health, including apples, strawberries, spinach and carrots. These foods are rich in fibre and vitamin C, which helps to improve gingival health and prevent tooth decay. 

Summary

Kiwi provides excellent support for healthy gums, teeth and overall oral health through high levels of nutrients and beneficial compounds that work through interconnected mechanisms. The abundance of vitamin C in kiwi strengthens the collagen matrix, which maintains gum integrity and promotes healing. Powerful antioxidants neutralise harmful radicals, protecting sensitive teeth and reducing the risk of inflammation associated with gingivitis and even oral cancer. 

Kiwi enzymes, such as actinidin, promote plaque removal, and the fibrous flesh cleans teeth. The extract also shows the type of antibacterial action that inhibits the formation of cavities and the action of a bacteria that causes periodontal disease. Kiwi provides solid nutrition without any risk of enamel erosion or imbalance of pH in the oral cavity. Whether eaten raw, in smoothie mixes, or sauce mixes, kiwi reaps many oral benefits thanks to its nutritional options that can be flexibly incorporated into any lifestyle. 

Although, kiwi fruit cannot replace regular dental care, including them in daily diet can greatly improve oral health. Eating one to two kiwis a day provides a powerful nutritional and biochemical boost through a harmonious mechanism for achieving and maintaining a healthy, bright smile. 

References

  1. Richardson DP, Ansell J, Drummond LN. The nutritional and health attributes of kiwifruit: a review. Eur J Nutr [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Dec 14]; 57(8):2659–76. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29470689/
  2. Lewis DA, Luh BS. DEVELOPMENT AND DISTRIBUTION OF ACTINIDIN IN KIWIFRUIT (ACTINIDIA CHINENSIS) AND ITS PARTIAL CHARACTERIZATION. J Food Biochemistry [Internet]. 1988 [cited 2023 Dec 14]; 12(2):109–16. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-4514.1988.tb00363.x
  3. Murererehe J, Uwitonze AM, Nikuze P, Patel J, Razzaque MS. Beneficial Effects of Vitamin C in Maintaining Optimal Oral Health. Front Nutr [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Dec 14]; 8:805809. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2021.805809/full.
  4. Matsumura Y, Hinode D, Fukui M, Yoshioka M, Asakuma H, Takii H. Effectiveness of an oral care tablet containing kiwifruit powder in reducing oral bacteria in tongue coating: A crossover trial. Clinical & Exp Dental Res [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Dec 14]; 6(2):197–206. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cre2.262.
  5. Graziani F, Discepoli N, Gennai S, Karapetsa D, Nisi M, Bianchi L, et al. The effect of twice daily kiwifruit consumption on periodontal and systemic conditions before and after treatment: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Periodontology.(Internet) 2018;89(3):285-293. doi:10.1002/JPER.17-0148. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29520772/
  6. Souza BMD, Vertuan M, Gonçalves IVB, Magalhães AC. Effect of different citrus sweets on the development of enamel erosion in vitro. J Appl Oral Sci [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Dec 14]; 28:e20200182. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32813839/ http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1678-77572020000100464&tlng=en.
  7. Bringheli I, Brindisi G, Morelli R, Marchetti L, Cela L, Gravina A, et al. Kiwifruit’s Allergy in Children: What Do We Know? Nutrients [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Dec 14]; 15(13):3030. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/15/13/3030.

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Dr. Shweta Chaudhary

Master of Public Health - MPH, University of Birmingham

I’m Dr. Shweta Chaudhary, I am a dentist and a public health professional. I am passionate about spreading awareness about health and wellness through various programmes and publications.

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