The 6 Worst Foods for Your Teeth

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS

If you’re like most people, you probably do your best to keep your teeth and gums healthy by brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist. But did you know that what you eat and drink every day can affect your dental health as well? Learn the foods and drinks that take the greatest toll on your teeth, as well as steps that can minimize the damage.

  • Lots of jellybeans
    1. Cling-On Foods
    Sugar-laden foods that cling to your teeth can wreak havoc because they lead to tooth decay. Try to avoid sticky, sweet and chewy foods, such as candy, cakes and muffins. Whenever possible, choose fresh, naturally sweet foods instead. If you need candy to satisfy your sweet tooth, a piece of sugarless gum or hard candy is a healthier option.
  • Asiago and gouda cheeses  with crackers
    2. Crunchy Carbs
    If you reach for crackers or chips at snack time, rethink how you munch. Bacteria in the mouth use simple carbohydrates for food, which can up your risk of cavities. This is because bacteria produce acid products that destroy the protective covering of your teeth. Lower your risk by pairing your carbohydrates with other healthy foods to help neutralize the acid. For example, add cheese to your crackers for a healthier smile.
  • Soda can tops
    3. Carbonated Drinks
    Carbonated drinks like soda are often high in sugar, which can coat the teeth and lead to tooth decay. But even diet sodas aren’t dental friendly; they contain their own kind of acid, which can also weaken teeth enamel. Cavities can form when enamel breaks down. If you do drink soda, try to limit your exposure. Have a soda with a meal once in a while, but don’t sip it throughout the day.
  • Cup of Coffee
    4. Other Sugary Beverages
    In addition to sugar-laden soda, watch out for other sweetened beverages, such as lemonade, energy drinks, or sweetened tea or coffee. Again, sipping these drinks slowly gives your teeth a bath in sugar. Whenever possible, opt for water—the most dental-friendly beverage available.
  • fruits and vegetables
    5. Acidic Foods
    Not all foods that are good for your body are also good for your teeth. Some nutritious foods can erode tooth enamel, too. These include tomatoes and citrus fruits like oranges. Don’t avoid these foods completely, but eat them with a meal to reduce their impact on your teeth.
  • dried-apricots
    6. Dried Foods
    Although dried foods can be part of a healthy diet, the sticky consistency can cause them to adhere to teeth. Plus, the plaque acid these foods create can harm your teeth long after you’ve finished eating. Exchange dried foods for fresh whenever possible. Snack on grapes instead of raisins.
  • crohn's disease, biologics, woman, grocery shopping
    Not All Foods Are Bad
    Not all foods are bad for your teeth. In fact, eating the right foods can boost your dental health. Many fruits and vegetables actually help clean your teeth. Plus, they stimulate saliva production, which washes food particles from the teeth and prevents tooth decay. Foods with calcium, such as cheese, spinach and almonds, as well as phosphorus-rich protein, such as meat and fish, can protect and rebuild tooth enamel.
The 6 Worst Foods for Your Teeth


  1. How does what I eat affect my oral health? Academy of General Dentistry.
  2. Nutrition. American Dental Association.
  3. Sip all day, get decay. Wisconsin Dental Association.
  4. What foods cause tooth decay in children? American Dental Association.
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Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 7
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.