What are the best and worst foods for your teeth?


Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS

The best and worst foods for your teeth

To obtain a beautiful and healthy smile, we must think about the best and worst foods for your teeth. In addition, the health of the mouth is important for an overall good condition, but it does not depend solely on what the dentist can do. Hygiene is very important, brushing and flossing is mandatory to prevent cavities and stains.

What are the best and worst foods for your teeth?
Best and worst foods for your teeth

Remember that when you drink and eat starchy or sugary foods, you’re not just feeding yourself. You are also feeding the germs (bacteria) that cause tooth decay and gum disease. When sugars and starches come into contact with plaque, acids are formed. These acids can attack the teeth for 20 minutes or more after you finish eating. Repeated attacks can break down the hard enamel on the surface of teeth, leading to tooth decay.

We will now review which foods to favor that provide benefits to our dental health and which ones can harm and deteriorate it. This will help you understand that food is essential to preserve tooth enamel, which in turn helps protect the teeth. Some foods invite tooth decay while others fight plaque buildup.


The worst foods for your teeth

1. Desserts, sweets, cookies, and other foods high in sugar

Hard candies can damage the enamel since biting into them can cause a dental emergency such as a broken or fractured tooth. Soft candies can adhere to the tooth for a long time, being the most nutritious medium for bacteria while improving adhesion to the tooth. Over time, bacteria metabolize the sugar, converting it into acid that removes the protective layer of tooth enamel and causes cavities.

Over time, bacteria metabolize the sugar, converting it into acid that removes the protective layer of tooth enamel and causes cavities.

The worst are those that include an acid, sugary, sour, and chewy flavor, since they carry their own load of acid (in addition to that produced by bacteria), easily eroding the enamel and causing tooth darkening and, of course, cavities.

2. Acidic foods (fruits and drinks)

The consumption of fruits and citrus juice with a high content of vitamin C – which is particularly acidic – is good for the body to a certain extent; however, if consumption is excessive, it can erode the enamel which makes it one of the worst foods for teeth, the hard outer layer of the teeth. therefore they are more prone to cavities, according to the ADA. Also, these fruits and juices can irritate mouth sores. If you want to consume them, do so in moderation and rinse with water after.

3. Bread

When chewing bread, saliva starts the metabolic process and transforms some starches into sugar. When it turns into a sticky and gummy mush in the mouth, it is very likely to stick to the crevices of the teeth, generating caries and dental disease in the long term due to the acidification of the mouth environment and over time, progressive deterioration of the enamel.

The moderate consumption of some carbohydrates is recommended, but avoid those rich in sugar.

The moderate consumption of some carbohydrates is recommended, but avoid those rich in sugar. Switch to whole wheat bread as it is less refined and healthier.

4. Pickles

Generally, pickles are a type of vegetable preserved in acetic acid, hence the typical flavor. The acid is what gives flavor to a sour and salty pickle; however, eating more than one a day increases tooth wear by about 85%. Therefore, it is recommended not to consume them frequently, as eventually it will result in a negative effect on oral health.

5. Sodas and sports drinks

Carbonated and sugary drinks are known to cause cavities. But what the majority of the population does not know is that carbonated drinks can damage teeth more than non-carbonated drinks, despite the fact that both are high in sugar.

Carbonated and sugary drinks are known to cause cavities.

This derived from a study in 2018 published in the Journal of Contemporary Practice, where they discovered that carbonated beverages are more acidic and corrosive than non-carbonated beverages. Additionally, some of these drinks contain caffeine, which can also cause dry mouth. If you consume any of these drinks, do so with caution and always accompanied by water.

6. Alcohol

Saliva is a protective fluid, cleaning and maintaining the optimal conditions of the mouth. It is very important to maintain good oral health and that of the teeth; however, alcohol causes reduced saliva production, generating dry mouth syndrome. This causes cavities over time since the sugar in some of these products contains or simply damages the tooth enamel, along with other dental diseases.

7. Wine

It is important to wait about 30 minutes after having a glass of wine before brushing your teeth.  Red and white wine contain an erosive acid that softens enamel and leaves teeth prone to staining. Red wine contains tannins that can leave your mouth dry and in turn stain the teeth. It is recommended that when you consume wine, you consider drinking water as well. It is further suggested to brush to help reduce the amount of plaque on the teeth and make the tannins less sticky.

8. Crackers

The refined carbohydrates found in crackers and sweets of all kinds quickly convert to sugar in the mouth, providing a very comfortable environment for bacteria, A sticky mass that accumulates on the teeth. Over time, bacteria promote gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. It is better to consume carbs in moderation and accompanied by water

9. Coffee and black tea

These are the most common beverages consumed by society. Most people consume coffee or tea at least once a day in the morning. They are highly addictive due to their caffeine content. Occasional consumption is not bad, but if you add sugar to this routine consumption, it will affect the gums and teeth, since sugar dries out the mouth and eventually stains the teeth. If you regularly drink coffee or tea, be sure to drink plenty of water and avoid sugary supplements as much as possible.

Occasional consumption is not bad, but if you add sugar to this routine consumption, it will affect the gums and teeth, since sugar dries out the mouth and eventually stains the teeth.

A 2012 study in The Journal of the American Dental Association compared two types of stains and found that coffee-stained teeth were more resistant to brushing and more likely to re-discolor after bleach treatment. In another study, they found that black tea tends to have a high tannin content, which favors high staining as well, even more than coffee. Surprisingly, herbal teas can erode tooth enamel to a greater extent than black tea.

10. Pasta sauce

Its consumption is recommended in moderation, given that some types can be very acidic, especially those derived from tomatoes. In combination with pasta, there is a double risk for the mouth, since the acidic tomato sauce weakens or erodes tooth enamel while the carbohydrates in pasta are a direct food source for bacteria, generating possible cavities. If accompanied by wine, the situation could be much worse. An important recommendation is to accompany this combination with water.

11. Ice

Some people think that because ice is made from water, it is healthy for the mouth; however, chewing on such a hard substance could leave teeth sensitive and lead to a dental emergency or enamel damage. It’s fine to ice to chill drinks, but it’s a good idea not to chew on it. To resist the urge, opt for cold water or drinks without ice.


What foods favor your oral health?

Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods that are good for your teeth and gums is important for your overall dental health. This means maintaining a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods, calcium-rich foods, and whole grains for a healthy smile and healthy body.

1. Dairy products

In general, milk and its derivatives are on the list of foods that prevent tooth decay and are a great source of calcium that helps maintain healthy teeth. Calcium is the key ingredient in a mineral known as hydroxyapatite, which strengthens tooth enamel and bones. Cheese is one of the best foods for your teeth for several reasons: the first is the low sugar content.


The second is that milk contains casein, a particularly useful protein for strengthening tooth enamel, among others such as phosphate. The latter will maintain the optimum pH level. Due to its texture and taste, milk generates a greater production of saliva, helping to sweep bacteria from the mouth. Moreover, yogurt made from milk is rich in calcium and probiotics that help protect against cavities, gum disease, and even bad breath.

2. Sugar-free gum

Saliva is nature’s way of removing acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. It coats teeth with bone-strengthening calcium and phosphate. Sugar-free gum helps clean teeth by stimulating saliva production; Additionally, many varieties of sugar-free gum are sweetened with xylitol, an alcohol that reduces bacteria. However, it is recommended not to abuse consumption; so the gum with your dentist.

3. Water

Our bodies are made up of 60% water. It helps distribute healthy nutrients, eliminates waste, keeps skin hydrated, and muscles working properly. Drinking water really helps the teeth stay healthy, especially if it contains fluoride. In short, it is a “natural cavity fighter.” Finally, water helps wash away food particles and keeps saliva levels high. Water is unlike any other beverage and is by far the healthiest option

4. Vegetables

Crunchy vegetables are foods that clean your teeth and help remove the remains of other foods that end up causing stains from the teeth. Also, carrots and radishes, like apples, clean plaque from teeth and remove the remains of other foods. To combat halitosis, celery is a good ally, as it combats bad breath.


If we want a good amount of calcium, then spinach, chard, and broccoli cannot be missing from your daily diet. In addition, these foods promote good digestion and require chewing several times to help strengthen the gums and jaw.

5. Strawberries

This fruit contains malic acid, known for its properties that can whiten teeth. If you eat strawberries for dessert,  make them natural and fresh. A very interesting and effective whitening treatment can be made with this small fruit.

6. Walnuts

Walnuts are high in calcium and phosphorus, as well as other important elements that afford multiple health benefits. Together with almonds and other nuts, they help fight the bacteria that cause cavities. In general, they provide a high content of minerals and vitamins, and their chewing stimulates the production of saliva.


Contact us

If you have any questions about this or other topics, you can contact us at Channel Islands Family Dental as well as our page on Facebook. We look forward to your visit and we will make a timely diagnosis. Our dentists in  Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, Newbury Park, and  Port Hueneme will be able to guide you toward the best treatment to take care of your health and give you back your best smile.



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  4. Mount Healthy. Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth (Internet). ADA, American Dental Association. (Consulted on August 22, 2022). Available in: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/nutrition/food-tips/9-foods-that-damage-your-teeth/
  5. University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry. The Best Foods For A Healthy Smile and Whole Body (Internet). University of Illinois Chicago. Posted on July 17, 2018 (consulted on August 23, 2022). Available in: https://dentistry.uic.edu/news-stories/the-best-foods-for-a-healthy-smile-and-whole-body/
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