Foods that are bad for your teeth
and healthy fix alternatives

Everyone knows that sugar and candy are bad for your teeth—your dentist and parents start telling you this pretty much as soon as you can reach the cookie jar in the kitchen. What might be news to you is that some foods that appear to be healthy, like oranges or bread, can be detrimental to your teeth.

Here are a few of the worst foods for your teeth along with healthy fix alternatives that are good for your oral health.

The “bad” food: carbonated soft drinks/sports drinks

Sodas and sports drinks are filled with sugar and are the primary source of added sugar in kids and teens.1 While they might give you a temporary energy boost, these drinks can contain phosphoric and citric acids, which erode tooth enamel.

The healthy fix alternative: milk and green or black tea

Green and black teas are natural sources of fluoride, and have properties that inhibit the bacteria that cause plaque. These compounds, called polyphenols, either kill or suppress the bacteria, which prevents them from developing the acid that attacks your teeth.2 Milk is not acidic and contains many vitamins and minerals that strengthen your teeth and bones.

The “bad” food: starchy foods including potato chips, pasta, and white bread

You might not think of these as bad food, since they are carbohydrates that give you energy and have little sugar. However, these foods can easily get wedged between your teeth and the starches can start to convert into sugar as soon as you consume them. This conversion process, caused by bacteria and pre-digestive enzymes in saliva,3 can begin to erode the enamel on your teeth.

The healthy fix alternative: nuts and dairy products

While it’s okay to have starchy foods in moderation—just make sure to drink water and brush your teeth after your meal—there are other filling foods that are actually good for your teeth. Nuts such as peanuts, almonds, and walnuts, can provide vitamins that strengthen your teeth and minerals that stimulate saliva production—a process that naturally cleans teeth. Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt also help stimulate saliva production while providing calcium and phosphates.

The “bad” food: sticky candies and long-lasting candies

It probably won’t surprise you that gummy or sugary candy is bad for your teeth. But, what you might not know is that it’s not just consuming sugar that’s bad for your teeth. For really chewy candies or long-lasting hard candies, it’s about how long the sugar lingers and sticks to your teeth—which can eventually lead to tooth decay.

The healthy fix alternative: Sugar-free gum and non-citrus fruits

If you have a craving for something sweet, see if chewing on a piece of flavored gum or having some fruit will satisfy it. Sugar-free gum can help boost dental health by stimulating saliva production. In addition, the artificial sweetener used in sugar-free gum fights against the bacteria that causes tooth decay. Fruits like apples or pears are also sweet alternatives—apples are full of fiber and both fruits can boost saliva production to help clean your mouth.

The “bad” food: high-acidity food and drink

In addition to carbonated beverages being both high in sugar and acidic, citrus fruits, like lemons and oranges, can also be dangerous for your teeth. Because these fruits are very acidic, they can erode the enamel on your teeth when consumed on their own or if you don’t rinse your mouth soon after eating them.

The healthy fix alternative: high fiber, no citrus fruits or veggies

Foods that are high in fiber, like carrots or broccoli, have a cleansing effect on your mouth because they stimulate saliva production, which neutralizes the acids and enzymes attacking your teeth.4 Fruits such as raspberries and bananas are also packed with fiber and are delicious alternatives that are good for your oral health.

You don’t have to wait for your next check-up to protect your smile—you can eat foods that are better for your teeth and start improving your oral health today!

1. Yale Medical Group, “The Best and Worst Foods for your Teeth,” accessed January 10, 2014,  http://www.yalemedicalgroup.org/stw/Page.asp?PageID=STW001565.

2. Cosmetic Dental Associates, “The Top 7 Best and Worst Foods for Teeth,” accessed January 10, 2014, http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/5/prweb8480421.htm

3. Yale Medical Group, “The Best and Worst Foods for your Teeth,” accessed January 10, 2014, http://www.yalemedicalgroup.org/stw/Page.asp?PageID=STW001565

4. LIVESTRONG, “Fiber Rich Fruits & Vegetables,” accessed January 10, 2014, http://www.livestrong.com/article/89492-fiber-rich-fruits-vegetables/

SLPC 24898 05/15 (exp. 05/17)

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