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Foods That Are Bad for Your Teeth

Foods That Are Bad for Your Teeth

Could you be inadvertently harming your teeth without realizing it? Several common foods we eat every day might be detrimental to our dental health. This Dentists Connect article will identify ten major culprits and provide tips on preserving your bright smile.

Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks, like sodas and energy drinks, not only increase your risk for obesity but can wreak havoc on your teeth. These sugary beverages provide an ideal environment for the bacteria in your mouth to feed on the sugars and produce acids that damage the tooth enamel over time.

In addition, a combination of carbonation and acids found in many sugary drinks can significantly weaken tooth enamel, leaving it more susceptible to bacterial attacks that cause cavities.

Some of these sugary liquids may contain other ingredients as well, such as artificial sweeteners or additives that make them even more damaging to the teeth. Some energy drinks may also contain citric acid which increases the risk of eroding tooth enamel upon contact – even without sugar in them.

It is important to carefully read labels and be conscious of the different sources of sugar you consume daily.

Sticky Sweets

Sticky sweets should be avoided when it comes to dental care, as they remain in contact with the teeth for an extended amount of time and can cause major damage to the enamel of your teeth due to their high sugar content. Examples of these are caramels, lollipops and other hard candies, gummy bears and jellybeans, licorice sticks, marshmallows, and certain types of dried fruit.

If you are going to consume these foods, it is highly recommended that you brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water after consumption in order to reduce the risk of cavities. Additionally, try to limit how often you eat these snacks throughout the day or week:

  • Caramels, lollipops, and other hard candies
  • Gummy bears and jellybeans
  • Licorice sticks
  • Marshmallows
  • Certain types of dried fruit

Hard Candies

Hard candies are one of the worst offenders when it comes to dental health. Hard candies can stay in contact with your teeth for extended periods of time, allowing their high sugar content to make its way into the enamel. This could lead to tooth decay and other oral health problems such as gum disease and cavities.

Hard candies often contain acids which can also damage your enamel. Additionally, hard candies are usually very sticky, making it difficult for saliva to wash them away from your teeth.

To protect your teeth, it is recommended that if you choose to indulge in hard candy you do so in moderation and brush your teeth afterward.

Acidic Fruits

Acidic fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits are not only damaging to teeth over time but even more immediately because their acidic pH level breaks down enamel quickly after eating. This can lead to teeth becoming soft and yellow in the long run.

Furthermore, if acidic fruits are consumed on a regular basis, these acids will break down the protective acid barrier in the mouth. Additionally, certain juices may also be highly acidic so it is best to try and limit your intake of these foods or drink with a straw and brush your teeth afterward.

Coffee and Tea

Drinking coffee and tea can be a pleasant part of the daily routine, but both drinks can have deleterious effects on your teeth. The main problem with both coffee and tea is that they contain acid and tannins. These substances interact with the enamel of your teeth and can cause staining and discoloration.

Additionally, adding sugar, honey, or cream to them will worsen their impact on tooth enamel health. Avoid further dulling the enamel by sipping your coffee or tea through a straw if you do choose to indulge. Furthermore, it is best to brush your teeth shortly after consuming either drink as the longer you wait, the more risk of eroding your tooth enamel.

Potato Chips

Potato chips can cause damage to your teeth in a variety of ways. Crunching on a bag of chips can fracture the enamel layer on your teeth, leading to heightened sensitivity and susceptibility to tooth decay. Potato chips also contain unhealthy fats and sugars that contribute to the acid production in your mouth, which can create cavities and decay. Additionally, many varieties are full of artificial flavors and colorings that have been linked to bacterial growth and acidic environments in some cases.

To minimize damage to your teeth, consider opting for healthier snack options such as raw vegetables or nuts instead of potato chips when possible. Additionally, make sure you are brushing routinely after having any type of snack that contains sugar or starch residues. Finally, remember that saliva production is your body’s natural defense against acidity; consuming plenty of water throughout the day can help neutralize pH levels in your mouth and protect your teeth from decay.

Sugary Cereals

Sugary cereals contain carbohydrates which, when broken down in the mouth, can feed the bacteria that cause tooth decay. The high sugar content also causes an increase in acidity, weakening the enamel of your teeth. The combination of sugar and carbs makes sugary cereals a double hazard to your teeth.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruits like dates, raisins, dried cranberries, and even sun-dried apples may seem healthier than their sugary candy counterparts, but they are actually quite full of sugar—in fact, they often contain more sugar than candy—and that can be detrimental to your dental health.

The stickiness of the dried fruit also means it often gets lodged in between teeth, making it difficult for saliva and water to wash away. Additionally, the stickiness can actually act as an adhesive for leftover food particles and plaque bacteria that are typically washed away via rinsing and brushing.

Sour Candies

Sour candies are loaded with acids and sugars, which make them a double whammy for your oral health. Acids found in sour candy can break down the enamel on your teeth, leaving them prone to decay, cavities, and sensitivity. Additionally, the excess sugar left behind can feed the bacteria in your mouth, leading to an increase in plaque build-up.

To reduce damage, it’s best to enjoy sugary treats like sour candy only occasionally – as part of a balanced diet – and be sure to brush twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride. In between meals and snacks, choose sugar-free gum or opt for healthier snack choices such as:


Popcorn, while being a snack that is low in calories and free of trans-fat, can cause significant damage to your teeth. Popcorn often leaves behind hulls that get stuck in between teeth, which can later lead to cavities or decay. The corn hulls also contain sugar that agitates gums and when they are heated they turn into hard kernels, causing damage to the enamel of your tooth.

Eating popcorn should be avoided as much as possible if you want to protect the health of your teeth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the worst foods for your teeth?

The worst foods for your teeth are sugary or starchy snacks, acidic foods, sticky foods, hard candies, and crunchy chips.

How can I protect my teeth from these foods?

The best way to protect your teeth from these foods is to limit your consumption and make sure to brush your teeth after eating them. Additionally, you can make sure to drink plenty of water and chew sugar-free gum after eating these foods.

What are some good alternatives to these foods?

Good alternatives to these foods include fruits and vegetables, cheese, and nuts. These are all healthy snacks that are good for your teeth.


Caring for your teeth is one of the best ways to keep them healthy. A balanced diet with plenty of nutritious foods and good oral hygiene are key elements in strong and healthy teeth. However, there are some foods that should be avoided if you want to keep your smile looking its best.

Foods filled with sugar and starches, such as candy, cookies, chips, pretzels, pastries, and soda are high in acid that can erode enamel over time. Starchy carbs (such as white bread) also stick to teeth surfaces creating the additional potential for decay. Frequent snacking throughout the day can also lead to more plaque build-up on teeth surfaces; limiting the number of snacks you eat during the day is a great way to reduce this risk. Drinking water between meals if you get thirsty instead of soda or other sugary drinks is an easy way to help keep your teeth strong and healthy.

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