Surprisingly Bad Foods for Your Teeth

An overhead view of numerous halved oranges, grapefruits, limes, and lemons on a wooden cutting board

There are certain foods like candy that everyone knows are bad for your teeth. But here are 6 foods that you may be surprised to learn aren’t great for your oral health either.

1. Citrus

We often think of fruit as a healthy snack that’s good for us. While this is true, it’s important to understand that citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits, contain acids that erode your tooth enamel. Even squeezing some lemon into your water adds acid. While you don’t have to stay away from citrus fruits completely, be sure to monitor how much you’re eating and drink water when you’re done to wash away the acid. Or you could use essential oils to flavor your water.

2. Bread

This is probably a pretty surprising one. When you eat bread, the saliva in your mouth breaks down the starch in bread into sugar. This creates a gummy-like substance that can stick in the spaces in between your teeth. If this isn’t removed, it can cause cavities when the sugars dissolve inside the mouth and create a surge of acid that erodes enamel. While you don’t have to cut bread out of your diet to maintain a healthy mouth, try to choose less-refined varieties such as whole grain, which don’t break down as easily and contain less added sugar.

3. Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is a snack that people often reach for when they’re trying to eat healthy. However, dried fruits are incredibly sticky and can damage your teeth because they tend to stay on your teeth longer than most foods. If you just can’t part with your favorite dried fruit, be sure to wash it down with water and floss every day to remove any food residue.

4. Ice

Ice is just frozen water so it doesn’t necessarily appear bad for your teeth at first glance, but it can actually cause a lot of damage. While chewing on ice can be enjoyable, it’s not the best for your teeth. Chewing ice can crack or chip your teeth and damage your enamel. Resist the urge to chew on ice and instead reach for some celery sticks, baby carrots, or sugar-free chewing gum.

5. Popcorn

Who can resist popcorn? Unfortunately, you should probably think twice before you make a bag. When tiny popcorn particles get stuck between your teeth, they feed the bacteria that causes tooth decay, while our continued snacking causes acid production to linger for awhile. Be sure to floss and rinse your mouth out after you indulge.

6. Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are marketed as healthy drinks that help to hydrate you after exercising. However, many sports drinks are filled with sugar. While sports drinks can be great for young athletes engaged in vigorous, prolonged physical activity, they are mostly unnecessary for the rest of us. That’s why you should primarily drink water when exercising, or at the very least, drink a sports drink that’s low in sugar.

While your diet is vital to your oral health, you also need to be practicing good dental habits like brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and drinking water after meals to rinse away any food particles. It’s also very important that you come in for regular cleanings and checkups.

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