Worst Foods and Beverages for Your Teeth

Discover the Worst Foods and Beverages for Your Teeth

Good oral hygiene is important in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. But, you may not be aware there are foods that are actually bad for your teeth. “We are the food that we eat.” We’ve all probably heard this quote before, meaning that eating good food is essential to being healthy and fit. So, ultimately, your diet directly impacts your health. But, beyond your health, there are certain foods that are harmful to your teeth and gums specifically. Staying away from these foods and beverages will contribute to the health and appearance of your teeth.

Your family dentist in Fuquay-Varina, Hamby Family Dental Center, helps patients to correct damage to teeth and gums caused by harmful foods. Come see us for cleanings to preempt damage and examinations to diagnose harm that has been done. Let’s look at some of the worst foods for your oral health and tips on fighting the damage they can do to your mouth.

Sweets, Candy, and Sugary Foods

Worst Foods and Beverages for Your TeethMany of us suffer from the proverbial “sweet tooth.” We find it difficult to stay away from food that has a lot of sugar in it. This can be an exercise in futility during the holidays especially. Foods like candy, cookies, pies, cakes, and ice cream are delicious but can cause damage and decay in your mouth. Sugary foods lead to the build-up of bacteria that promotes tooth decay and gum disease. Sweets like caramels, lollipops, hard candies, and jelly beans are worse than other treats because they are sticky and stay in your mouth longer. Their sticky nature can cause them to create cavities, adhere to fillings, crowns, and bridges, and even dislodge them. And, the longer they stay in your mouth, the harder it is for your saliva to wash away the sugar.

Here are some tips to take care of your mouth if you can’t stay away from sweets:

  • Try to eat them after a meal instead of in between meals
  • Drink lots of water after eating a dessert to help wash away the sugar
  • Brush your teeth afterward, if possible

Soft Drinks – Diet and Sugar-Free

Most of us assume that soft drinks without sugar or with less sugar aren’t bad for our teeth. But, this isn’t true. These soft drinks are not only bad for your teeth but also for your general health. When consumed excessively, these beverages can cause a lot of damage to your teeth. Phosphoric acid, found in soft drinks, can break down layers of rust and tarnish that are found on heavy metals. So, if this is true, the enamel on your teeth doesn’t stand a chance. Consuming an acidic drink occasionally is fine and won’t cause much damage. However, water is the best choice for both your physical and oral health.

Coffee and Tea

One cup of coffee or tea to get you going each day isn’t necessarily a problem for your oral health–that is unless you add sugar. If you are adding sugar, you may be doing harm to your teeth. Again, it’s the sugar that can cause bacteria to build up and damage teeth and gums. In addition, if you drink several cups of coffee or tea per day, you could be staining your teeth and drying out your mouth. A dry mouth can lead to problems such as increased plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease. Be sure to drink plenty of water during the day and avoid adding sugar to your morning beverages as much as possible.


Is red wine or white wine better for your teeth? The answer is neither. Both red and white wine contain erosive acid that softens tooth enamel and promotes decay. Red wine also has tannins that can dry out your mouth and stain your teeth.

Here are some tips for reducing the amount of plaque on your teeth, which decreases the number of tannins that adhere to your teeth:

  • Drink plenty of water along with the wine
  • Brush your teeth beforehand
  • Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after drinking wine to allow tooth enamel to remineralize and build itself back up

Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are healthy, right? You assume so because they can replenish amino acids and electrolytes after strenuous exercise. That is true, but they also can contain sugars and acids that are harmful to your teeth. Some sports drinks are thick and will stick to your teeth for a while after consuming them. Drinking water after drinking a sports beverage is a good way to wash away the acids and sugars that remain in your mouth. Or, just drink water instead of a sports drink.

Citrus Fruits and Juices

Citrus fruits and juices are part of a healthy diet. But, keep in mind, citrus fruits contain acid and sugar, and fruit juices can contain a lot of sugar. As stated before, the bacteria that is responsible for breaking down tooth enamel is powered by large amounts of sugar.

  • Check the ingredients list on any fruit juice to see the amount of sugar included
  • When drinking juices, use a straw to help acid bypass your teeth
  • Eat fruits that are lower in sugar and acidity such as plums, peaches, and dark berries
  • Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after eating or drinking anything acidic to allow the tooth enamel to remineralize and build itself back up


Who doesn’t like popcorn while watching a movie or binging a series on streaming? But, be aware that popcorn can damage your teeth if you don’t chew it carefully. Popcorn kernels are very hard and, when you bite down on one, you can crack or chip a tooth. Additionally, the shell-like layers on kernels lodge in between teeth and gums, making it easier for tooth decay or sore gums.

  • Use your tongue to feel whether there are hard kernels on the popcorn before you chew down on it
  • Flossing after eating popcorn can minimize the damage by removing stubborn husks that are trapped between teeth

Crackers, Bread, and Other Starches

Bread and other foods that are high in starches, such as simple carbohydrates like pasta and rice, are usually not thought of as causing damage to your teeth. But, these foods break down into sugars by your saliva while you are chewing and coat your teeth, increasing the growth of harmful bacteria. Trying to eat more whole wheat foods and complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes is a good way to ward off destructive bacteria.

Contact Us for a Dental Checkup Today

If you have damaged your teeth and/or gums, it should be dealt with by a dentist as soon as possible. Call us for quick remediation at 919-552-2431 or complete the form below to get started.

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