Honey is a delicious treat enjoyed all over the world. But does the sweetness come at a cost? Is honey bad for your teeth like processed sugar? Fortunately for all of us, the answer is no! Honey can be good for you, both in terms of your oral health and beyond. Here are just a few examples of how consuming honey is beneficial:
Honey can help treat gum diseases, including gingivitis, bleeding, and receding gums. 95% of adults have periodontal disease at least once in their lives. If it becomes severe, your teeth will begin moving out of place. The bacteria inhabiting an oral cavity causes inflammation, so the best way to prevent gingivitis is to kick out that bacteria!
When you mix honey with water, an enzyme in honey called glucose oxidase produces hydrogen peroxide. The production of hydrogen peroxide is the primary reason for its antimicrobial activity. Research from Dr. Peter C. Molan of the University of Waikato in New Zealand showed that certain types of honey help prevent cavities because of their antimicrobial potency. You can even place honey directly on the site of inflammation or infection in the mouth. Honey’s antibacterial properties flush out harmful bacteria.
By fighting the bacteria, honey reduces the amount of acid your mouth produces. Without that acid, bacteria can no longer produce dextran, which is essentially the “glue” that helps bacteria attach to the tooth surface. Bacteria become plaque, which eventually can harden into what leads to gum disease and tooth decay.
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The question is honey bad for your teeth isn’t quite a simple yes or no. Before you start buying barrels of honey, know that research warns that all honey is NOT made equal. The majority of honey sold in the US is processed or refined. Like any processed food, it can contribute to health issues. Therefore, for the most benefit, learn how to distinguish health-saving honey from the potentially health-damaging.
When honey is ultra-filtered, it is impossible to know the origin of the pollen, making it easier for the manufacturer to tamper with the honey. Honey can be smuggled into the US illegally, preventing consumers from knowing what it contains. There’s no way to tell it isn’t diluted with corn syrup—or much worse. For example, some honey from China has contained illegal antibiotics and traces of heavy metals when tested in a lab.
Buying locally usually ensures that your honey is safe because local farmers won’t alter it. Honey that’s put directly into the jar for selling provides the best health benefits because all components are intact. You can also pay more for Manuka honey from New Zealand, which is famously superior honey with incredible health benefits. The FDA has even approved it for use in burn healing.
So, is honey bad for your teeth? Actually, honey’s properties are beneficial to both your body and your dental health. But do your homework before you begin consuming it. Make sure you’re getting the most natural, whole honey that you can, which hasn’t been processed or refined in any way. Your gums and teeth will thank you!
However, you’ll need more than honey to protect your dental health. Luckily, Penn Dental Family Medicine offers affordable, comprehensive care, so you can maintain your beautiful, healthy smile. To learn more, click here and make an appointment today!