The Worst Foods And Drinks For Your Teeth

Everything you eat impacts the health of your teeth. While whole foods can naturally keep your teeth clean, bad foods for teeth such as carbonated drinks, potato chips, and white bread can allow plaque-forming bacteria to grow. Read more here.

By D Tejaswi
13 Aug 2022

Do you know what’s the body’s first step in the process of digestion? It is chewing. Teeth allow you to cut, chew, crush and also grind the food making it easy for the digestive system to process. Every tooth is covered with enamel, which is the strongest part of the human body, but the enamel is exposed to an acidic environment when you eat. While the mouth also needs good bacteria that help keep cavities away, particular foods cause plaque to build up. And, tooth unlike other parts of the body, such as muscle or skin, cannot self-repair or rebuild.


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Why are some foods bad for your teeth?

Not all foods and beverages are bad for your teeth. In fact foods with fibre help to keep your teeth and gums clean. On the other hand, when you have starchy or sugary foods, they build up plaque and cause the bacteria to release acids that attack tooth enamel. Plaque is a bacteria-filled sticky film that covers all the surfaces of all your teeth. Plaque contributes to gum disease and tooth decay.


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Foods Bad For Your Teeth

1. Carbonated Beverages

A 2013 study published in General Dentistry Journal says that soda can cause similar damage to your teeth. A carbonated beverage enables the plaque to produce more acid which dissolves the top layer of enamel. Also, dark-coloured sodas such as coke, pepsi have chemical compounds called chromogens that stain teeth. One smart way to consume sodas and carbonated beverages is to use a straw. A straw helps you gulp up or taste the liquid without directly letting the damaging acids or sugars touch your teeth.


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2. Alcohol

A 2017 study in Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research says that alcohol increases the risk of dental caries. Drinking alcohol in excess may also erode enamel to further expose another layer called dentin, situated below the enamel that contains several nerve endings. Erosion of dentin causes tooth sensitivity. Alcohol as well causes dehydration causing the mouth to dry up, and reducing the saliva needed for teeth protection. Dark wines cause discoloration of teeth, as it contains chromogens, colour compounds that attach to the enamel.


3. Sticky candies

Sticky candies could get stuck to the teeth, allowing sugar and acids to sit on the teeth. A 2003 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that half-decomposed sugars of the mouth provide a perfect ground for oral bacteria to lower the pH of the mouth, which can cause demineralisation of teeth.


4. Starchy foods

One of the worst foods for teeth is high-starchy foods. While foods such as pasta, potato, white bread and rice provide fibre, calcium, iron and Vitamin B for the body, these can damage the teeth if left unchecked. It is because the high starch content gets converted into sugar easily when the trapped starch is stuck between the teeth. A good practice is to brush your teeth after eating these foods and have more water.


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5. Citrus Fruits

Fruits high in citrus content such as lemon, lime or orange can be dangerous for tooth health if you do not rinse your mouth after consuming them. While citrus fruits are powerhouses of Vitamin C, the acid content in these fruits can erode the enamel and cause degradation. A 2008 paper published in General Dentistry corroborates the same, further saying that oranges have the mildest effect while lemons are the harshest on the tooth enamel.


6. Coffee

While you may love to kick-start your day with a cup of coffee, this morning routine could affect your dental health. Coffee contains a polyphenol called tannin, a colour compound that sticks to your teeth and leaves an unwanted yellow hue. Also, a 2016 study published in PLoS One says that coffee consumption is closely associated with periodontal issues (infection and inflammation of gums). Sometimes, the excess sugar and other ingredients such as milk bring in bacteria that can cause enamel erosion and bad breath. To avoid the stains, brush your teeth 30 minutes post coffee because coffee is acidic. Avoid brushing immediately after having acidic drinks or foods as it weakens your tooth enamel and causes staining.


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7. Sports Drinks/ Energy Drinks

A 2005 report published in General Dentistry says that chances of enamel dissolution are higher in sports(energy) drinks than in lemonades and cola drinks. It is for the simple reason that these drinks are high in sugar, citrates, and caffeine (sometimes). Drinking these in moderation followed by rinsing of the mouth prevents any kind of dental issues.


Tips To Strengthen Teeth And Gums

  • Practice 2/2 rule. Brush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss, at least once, before brushing. Flossing removes interdental plaque and creates a way for toothpaste to enter the crevices for better cleaning.
  • Get dental checkups (once in 6 months) and preferably dental cleaning done regularly as a professional inspection can reveal any early-stage issues.
  • Quit Smoking. Smoking is associated with gum disease. It causes the build-up of tartar and reduces saliva in your mouth which acts as a protective layer.
  • Include fresh, fibre-rich, crunchy vegetables and fruits that naturally contain a lot of water to help clean your teeth.
  • Reduce the intake of refined sugars.
  • Rinse your mouth well after you eat/drink anything.


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1. Are apples good for your teeth?

Yes. Apples stimulate alkaline saliva flow to neutralise mouth pH and reduce bacteria.


2. Do apples clean your teeth?

Yes, apples are high in fibre which helps clean your teeth.


3. Is rice milk bad for your teeth?

Rice milk contains high carbohydrates which if left in the mouth acts as a breeding ground for bacteria. While you can have it, you should remember to rinse your mouth later.


4. Is citric acid bad for your teeth?

Yes, citric acid when left on teeth is known to cause acid erosion of enamel.


5. Is milk bad for your teeth?

No, milk is a very important source of proteins and calcium which are essential for healthy teeth and gums. On the other hand, lactose and other sugars in milk can increase plaque build-up but only if you don't rinse or clean your mouth after drinking milk.


6. What foods damage your teeth?

Gutka (a type of smokeless tobacco), sweetened candies, or excessive use of energy drinks can damage your enamel if you do not rinse your mouth after having these.


7. Are corn nuts bad for your teeth?

Yes, corn nuts can be bad for your teeth. These are hard, and often contain a sweet coating that can bring in a host of bad bacteria into your mouth.


8. Is honey bad for your teeth?

Honey is both acidic and high in sugar content, both of which can cause demineralisation of teeth.








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