Which Foods Are Bad for Your Teeth and Why?

November 17, 2021

Whether we try to or not, everyone notices your teeth. If there is nothing wrong, most people do not commit the image to memory. But that doesn’t mean that your mouth is in perfect health. Cavities and plaque can be hidden, and what you eat influences how likely you are to develop them. Learn which foods are bad for your teeth, so you can improve your oral health and ensure a great first impression.

What Is “Bad” Food?

Of all the foods we eat, the ones high in sugar, sticky, gummy, acidic, or all of the above can damage the longevity of your teeth. Sugar fuels the bacteria living in the mouth, burning it for energy. Acid is produced from the reaction, which can cause cavities and wear down the protective enamel. Dentists in Chicago, IL, like Dr. Dhiraj Sharma have researched various foods to see which ones affect your oral health the most. While they might not be bad for your overall health, they can provide some terrible habits and eventually cavities and other dental issues that require treatment.


Popcorn is a unique snack that is easy to make at home. Without toppings, such as butter or salt, it is low-calorie. Air poppers are the usual recommended method as there is no extra oil needed to pop the kernels. If you are like most people, however, you like having butter and salt on it, leading to health problems. But even plain popcorn can be bad for your teeth. The puffy part of the corn can get caught between teeth and provide a home for bacteria to grow. The crunchy bits can lead to a crack in the tooth or even break off a piece. Beware of husks that stay on the popcorn, as they can cut up your gums too!

Chips & Bread

Crunchy snacks like potato chips, corn chips, and even white bread are all foods connected to plaque buildup on teeth. While the main ingredient in white bread is not sugar, it can feed other bacteria and absorb natural saliva that gives your teeth a protective barrier against acids.

Coffee & Tea

While coffee can keep you going, and tea can be perfect for many various ailments, both can stain your pearly whites. If you want to keep them white, be sure to drink a lot of water in addition to the coffee or tea and brush after consumption. Once you add creams, sugars, or flavorings to the coffee or tea, then you introduce sugar to the ecosystem of your mouth. That means you increase the bacterial reaction and create acid that can make it much easier to discolor your teeth.

Citrus & Tomatoes

As good as fresh fruits are, lemons, limes, and even tomatoes are high in acid. That means sucking on a slice or outright eating them on their coats your teeth with the chemical. That can cause a breakdown of the protective layers of your teeth and increase the risk of cavities and potential tooth loss.

Dried Fruits

Dehydrated fruits are often thought of as great road snacks. These things can be less messy than other options, plus it is fruit. Most fresh fruit is the way to go, and dried fruit can have many health benefits for your body. The only problem is that a dried fruit concentrates the sugar, and it can become a lot stickier. Sticky dried fruit can be as bad as a high-sugar candy, causing cavities and gum disease problems.


No one will argue how quick putting together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be. There are other issues with it than the kind of bread you use. Most brands of peanut butter use a sugar base and other preservatives. You should get all-natural brands to decrease the amount of sugar. However, it still leaves the stickiness factor harmful to previous fillings, crowns, and other corrective dental fixtures. The fruit-based and all-natural jelly brands are heavily sugar-based, even if it contains no high-fructose corn syrup. If not rinsed right away after eating, the sugars and other parts can lead to cavities and plaque buildup.


Now and again, people crave the chilling feeling of ice to cool down. Many people crunch the frozen water like a potato chip, but unlike those chips, it can lead to issues with cracking a tooth. There are other times where it can make a small problem much bigger by exposing a nerve near an already existing cavity. Despite the hankering to chew on ice, try sucking on it instead. At least there is no sugar in ice.

Hard Candy

Hard candy has no positive health benefits for dental care. The tiny sugar bombs can take several minutes to dissolve, thanks to the saliva in your mouth, meaning it constantly introduces bacteria’s energy source. If you are unable to wait and crunch them, you can risk cracking, chipping, or even breaking a tooth. No one wants a dental emergency from eating.

Alcohol & Mixed Drinks

Most alcoholic beverages are sugar-based to achieve the necessary fermentation. This can cause a dry mouth situation, which removes the protective and natural fluids, such as saliva, by decreasing production. This leads to less protection against bacteria and acid erosion of enamel. Often, the alcohol is mixed with a sugary beverage, such as juice cocktails or soda, which adds to the sugar content.

Soda, Pop, or Soda Pop

Whether you call it soda or pop or soda pop, the beverage is a devastating combination of sugar and acidity that can ruin your dental hygiene. With the base of all kinds of the drink starting from a thick sugary syrup, adding water and carbonation introduces the reaction many people like and natural acidity. Diet sodas may not be filled with traditional sugars, but sugar alternatives can be just as destructive and acidic as the originals.

The Role of Digestion

Oral health is important as this is the first step in digesting vital nutrients that your body needs to survive. If there is any change in the type of bacteria, amount of saliva, enamel thickness, and several other factors, it affects how the food and drink get to the stomach. Knowing just how eating a sugary sweet or hard chip can affect the status of your mouth is one step in understanding how important it is to keep your teeth clean.

Toothaches Suck

Tooth pain is one of the hardest pains to deal with as well. Keeping your teeth, gums, and tongue muscles healthy is an important step to making every day more enjoyable. While it might be difficult to start up good habits, breaking bad ones is just as important. Consult the experts when you are unsure of what to do next.

What You Can Do

Dr. Sharma recommends eating less of some items listed and completely removing others from your diet. You could also try to rinse your mouth after eating. With gentle strokes, using a toothbrush without toothpaste can help clear out some stuck food pieces. It is commonly recommended to brush and floss your teeth, then rinse your mouth after every meal. When times or situations do not allow for consistent brushing, you should aim for twice a day and rinse thoroughly after each meal to help keep up your dental hygiene. Flossing can keep small pockets of bacteria from growing and damaging tooth enamel or gum tissue in hard-to-see places.

For more information on what is best for your teeth or to schedule an appointment with our dentist office in Downtown Chicago, contact us today.



You might also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}