The Worst Foods and Drinks for Your Teeth

Posted on: 1 December 2020

Daily brushing and flossing are key to healthy teeth and gums, but what you eat and drink each day also impacts your oral health. Some things you and drink can promote the formation of plaque and cavities, damaging your teeth and gum tissue. Limiting certain foods and beverages makes it easier to keep your teeth clean, protects tooth enamel and promotes gum health. The following are examples of foods and drinks that you should avoid or limit to enjoy better oral health. 

Starchy Foods

Starchy foods like bread, crackers, potato chips soften in your mouth as saliva starts to break them down. The soft particles cling to teeth and get trapped in the spaces between teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feed on the starch and make a sticky film, known as plaque. Brushing removes plaque, but plaque that remains on teeth can harden and cause gum inflammation. 

Bacteria feeding on starches can also damage tooth enamel. These microorganisms produce acids as a byproduct of eating carbohydrates, which react to the minerals that make up tooth enamel. The acids weaken the enamel, causing bacteria to enter and form a cavity in the tooth. 

Sticky Foods

Sticky, chewy foods that are high in sugar cling to teeth and are difficult to remove. Dried fruits like raisins, dates and apricots and chewy treats like gummy fruit snacks and caramels can cause damage if particles remain on teeth. Because of their tendency to stick, these particles can be tough to remove, even with brushing and flossing. 

Acidic Foods and Drinks

Citrus fruits like oranges and limes and carbonated beverages like soda contain a lot of acid. Like the acid produced by bacteria in your mouth, the acid in these foods and drinks wear away tooth enamel. Acids also irritate sores in the mouth.

Alcohol and Drugs

Alcoholic beverages and some types of medication cause dry mouth. Caffeine in coffee and tea can also leave your mouth feeling dry. Saliva helps to rinse the teeth, and a lack of saliva can lead to cavities and gum disease. Too much alcohol or caffeine can deprive the mouth of adequate saliva. Excess alcohol consumption can increase the risk of some types of oral cancer. 

Try Some Healthy Alternatives

Changing some of your eating and drinking habits can have a positive impact on your oral health. Cut back on starchy, acidic and mouth-drying foods and drinks and replace them with more tooth-friendly choices. Here are a few examples:

  • Drinking water instead of juice or soda keeps the mouth hydrated and helps rinse sugars and acids off teeth.
  • High protein, low starch foods like meats, eggs and cheeses decrease the risks of cavities and gum disease compared with high-carbohydrate foods.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in water and fiber content. They stimulate saliva production, which helps to keep sugars and acids from sticking to teeth.

For more insight, be sure to schedule an appointment with a local dentist