Often sweet, mostly dangerous—here are 11 foods and drinks that wreck your teeth:

 

1. Soda

The sugar and carbonation found in sodas can attack and dissolve your tooth enamel, making it easy for cavities to form. Even sugar-free diet sodas contain citric and phosphoric acid that can erode enamel.

Tip: If you must have a soda, drink it during a meal alongside water, rather than sipping throughout the day. You’ll decrease your teeth’s time of exposure to acids, and eating helps neutralize those acids.

2. Citrus

Acidic foods and drinks are the number one cause of enamel erosion and tooth decay. The major culprits are fruit juice, lemons, limes and grapefruits.

Tip: Drink juice in one sitting and avoid acidic foods and drinks for several hours after. Don’t brush right away- drink and rinse your mouth with water after snacking on citrus fruits to avoid the acid penetrating further into the teeth.

3. Coffee and Tea

The tannic acids in coffee and tea can wear down your enamel and stain your teeth. Caffeinated coffee and teas are also known to dry out your mouth.

Tip: Drink plenty of water with your coffee or tea and keep add-ons, like sugar and caramel, to a minimum. Try drinking through a straw to avoid wear on your teeth.

4. Candy

Hard candy, chewy candy, sour candy—no matter what kind you choose, don’t. Candy sticks on your teeth, allowing bacteria to feed off the sugar and produce acid which damages tooth enamel and causes cavities. Eating hard candies can even result in a dental emergency, like a chipped tooth.

Tip: Chew sugarless gum that carries the ADA (American Dental Association) seal.

5. Alcohol and Wine

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to mouth cancer and a reduced saliva flow, which increases your chance of tooth decay and other oral infections like gum disease. Tannin compounds in wine can also dry out your mouth and cause stains that wear down the surface of your teeth.

Tip: Limit your consumption of wine and alcohol and always pair each glass with water. Try drinking through a straw to avoid discoloration to your teeth.

6. Dried fruits

A healthier snack option, but dangerous for your teeth. Sticky, dried fruit stays on your teeth longer and can get caught in crevices where plaque and other bacteria develop.

Tip: Rinse your mouth with water after snacking and brush and floss carefully.

7. Sports drinks

Although seemingly healthy, sports drinks are often overloaded with sugar (including high-fructose corn syrup) that can cause severe enamel wear.

Tip: Choose sports drinks low in sugar or drink water instead.

8. Potato chips

Potato chips are loaded with starch that can get trapped in your teeth, allowing bacteria to feast and produce acid that can cause tooth decay and plaque build-up.

Tip: Take extra care when you floss to completely remove food particles.

9. Pickles

The combination of super-acidic vinegar and sugar packs a punch to your teeth—wearing down enamel and causing erosion.

Tip: Snacking on one every now and then is okay, but eating more than one a day increases your risk of tooth wear.  

10. Ice

Chewing on a hard substance like ice can increase the likelihood of a dental emergency and can damage enamel.

Tip: Break the habit!

11. Crackers and White bread

Refined carbohydrates found in crackers and white bread quickly convert to sugar in your mouth, creating a meal for cavity-forming bacteria.

Tip: Brush and floss carefully after eating, removing all particles of food. Opt for whole wheat options instead.

Bonus Tips:

  • Eat more strawberries! Strawberries contain malic acid, a natural enamel whitener.
  • Fluoride toothpaste can help repair enamel and reduce your risk of tooth decay and dental erosion.
  • Don’t swish acidic drinks or hold them in your mouth.
  • Eat apples in between snacks. Apples scrub away plaque and freshen breath.
  • Choose dairy snacks instead. For example, cheese contains a protein called casein that can repair and strengthen tooth enamel.

Remember: Good oral hygiene can almost make up for any day-to-day damage these foods and drinks can do to your teeth, so be sure to make your routine dental appointments!