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Surprisingly, some foods can be worse for your teeth than candy.

Here are the worst foods for your teeth—other than candy—that dentists want you to avoid.

Candy has a reputation for being bad for your teeth, but it’s not the only food capable of ruining your pearly whites. Everything from your favorite grocery store staples to your daily cup of Joe could put your teeth in jeopardy. In addition to keeping up with good teeth hygiene, try your best to limit these foods.

Dried fruit background.

Rows of dried dates, apricots, cranberries, pomelos, blueberries, nuts, prunes...

“Dried fruit is really like eating candy,” says Stephen J. Stefanac, DDS, professor of oral medicine and periodontics at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. “It has that stickiness and high sugar content.” That means that sugar gets stuck between your teeth—the perfect formula for cavities.


It probably comes as no surprise that soda is not great for your teeth. A 12-ounce can of soda has a whopping 39 grams of sugar—that’s almost ten teaspoons. But that’s not the only problem. “It’s very acidic,” says Tricia Quartey, DMD, a dentist in Brooklyn, New York. “And acid can break down the enamel.” The worst is if you sip soda all day long, because it increases your teeth’s exposure to the sugar and acid.

Bottled juice

Bottled juice can be acidic and often contains added sugars, sometimes as much as ten teaspoons per serving. That sugar feeds bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay.

Pasta sauce

Tomatoes are healthy, but they’re also acidic: “Eating tomato sauce with spaghetti doubles the damage to enamel,” says Dr. Quartey. The acidic sauce can break down the enamel on teeth, and the carbs in pasta help feed cavity-causing bacteria.

Apple Cider Vinegar

This vinegar has been touted for its potential health benefits, but you might not realize that its high acidity can erode tooth enamel in a hurry. Two dentists we spoke with have seen an increase in people with damaged teeth from drinking apple cider vinegar. If that’s a part of your regimen, always dilute it with water, drink it in one sitting, and rinse well afterward.

Coffee, tea, frappé

All are acidic and diuretic, which means they can dry out your mouth. “Saliva is nature’s buffering system to rinse everything,” Dr. Rodriguez explains. “When you run low, you’re more prone to cavities and gum disease.” And that frappé? It’s even worse because of all the added sugar. Good news: Swishing with water afterward will help protect your teeth.

Potato chips

First, hard chips can cut your gums, and as refined carbs, they’re essentially food for mouth bacteria to feed on. But the flavorings, which are often acidic, act like sandpaper on your teeth, Dr. Rodriguez says. And the more extreme the flavoring, the worse it is. Try plain air-popped popcorn instead or, better yet, some nuts.

News Date March 2021

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