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Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

Prevention is the best remedy for your smile. It is true that fillings and crowns can prolong the life of your teeth, however it's better (and less pricey!) to avoid cavities in the first place. You can do this by proper brushing, flossing, and—unbeknownst—eating right. The foods we choose to eat play an important role in your dental health.

Luckily, foods like candy that don't always play nice with our teeth are generally harmless in moderation. It's when we excessively consume one habitual food/drink that it can become a problem.


• Citrus fruits and 100% juices are an excellent source of vitamin C and other nutrients. But while they are good for you in many ways, but not when it comes to your teeth. Grapefruit and lemon juice, in particular, are highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel over time.


• The stickier the candy, the worse it tends to be for your teeth. Extra-chewy candies—like taffy or caramels stick to and between your teeth for a long time, allowing the bacteria in our mouths to feast leisurely on the deposited sugar, causing issues long term.


• Hard candies such as Jolly Ranchers don't cling to your teeth as readily as chewy candy, but they have their own downside. Unlike, say, chocolate-based sweets, which are chewed quickly and wash away relatively easily, hard candy dissolves slowly and saturates your mouth for several minutes at a time, giving bacteria more time to produce harmful acid. To make matters worse, many varieties of hard candy are flavored with citric acid.

Besides, if you bite down wrong on some hard candies, they can chip your teeth—something no amount of brushing or flossing can repair. They don't call 'em jawbreakers for nothing!


• Acid (typically provided by vinegar) is essential to the pickling process. It's what gives pickles their sour, salty, and delectable taste. It's also what makes them a potential hazard to tooth enamel with repetitive daily consumption.


• It's no secret that drinking too many sugary sodas can breed cavities. What's less well-known is that the acids found in carbonated soft drinks appear to harm teeth even more than the sugar. The upshot? Even sugar-free diet sodas like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi—which both contain citric and phosphoric acid—can erode enamel if consumed in large doses.

If you can't do without soda, your best bet is to drink it during a meal, rather than sipping it throughout the day. The food will help neutralize the acid.


• If you're in the mood for something sweet or fizzy, sports drinks and energy drinks may seem like a good alternative to pop. But Gatorade or Red Bull won't do your teeth any favours. These beverages are acidic, potentially even more damaging to teeth than pop.


• The refined carbohydrates found in saltines and many other types of crackers convert to sugar in the mouth very quickly, providing a perfect environment for cavity-forming bacteria.

• If you frequently binge on crackers you may have cause for concern, but eating them in moderation isn't likely to cause any long-term problems.


• Sugar-free gum helps clean teeth by stimulating the production of saliva. Saliva is nature's way of washing away acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth, and it also bathes the teeth in bone-strengthening calcium and phosphate. In addition, many varieties of sugarless gum are sweetened with xylitol, an alcohol that reduces bacteria.


• Leafy vegetables and other high-fiber foods promote good digestion and healthy cholesterol levels, and they also do wonders for your teeth—mostly because they require a lot of chewing.

• Eating a bowl of spinach or beans is a bit like running your teeth through a car wash: All that chewing generates saliva, and the food itself physically scrubs your teeth as it's mashed up into little pieces.

Most information used from ADA and CDA articles

Annie Nelson