The Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

Everyone wants a beautiful smile. Did you know, however, that the foods you eat might be doing your teeth more harm than good? The food you put in your body affects more than just your waistline. Unhealthy foods can hurt your teeth, making you more susceptible to cavities, gum disease, or other health problems. Boost your tooth health by eating the right kinds of food and limiting sugary sweets that cause damage.

Some foods and drinks can make your mouth dry and leave food buildup stuck on your teeth. Drinking plenty of water or chewing sugarless gum after eating these kinds of foods increases your saliva flow and are two of your mouth’s best defenses against cavities and other problems.

Foods that keep your teeth healthy

Dairy products

Cheese, milk, and plain yogurt have calcium and phosphates that help build strong teeth. Eating low-fat dairy can help replace minerals that your teeth might be lacking or may have lost as you’ve eaten other foods.

Leafy greens

Leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with vitamins and minerals, and they’re low in calories. They have calcium, which builds tooth enamel, and folic acid, which has a number of other health benefits.


Apples are sweet, but they also have high fiber and water contents. Fiber can increase your saliva production, helping to clear out lingering food particles that can damage your teeth. Other fruits and veggies that are high in fiber—like carrots and celery—give your mouth the same benefits, too.


Like dairy products, almonds give you calcium and protein. They are also low in sugar, making them a good choice for your teeth.

Foods that hurt your teeth

Hard candy

Hard candies, such as lollipops, caramels, and some cough drops, usually have a lot of sugar, which is bad considering those candies stay in your mouth for a while as you suck on them. The sugar in candies sticks to your teeth, increasing your risk of developing cavities.

Acidic foods

Citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, and other acidic foods can increase acid levels in your mouth. Acid can erode tooth enamel over time, making your teeth more sensitive and breakable. Although many acidic foods have healthy benefits too, enjoy them in moderation to avoid enamel damage.

Sticky foods

Sticky foods like dried fruit, caramels, or sugary gum can leave residue on your teeth, contributing to decay over time. If you eat sticky foods, rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth as soon as possible to avoid sticky buildup that can cause cavities.


Ice is just frozen water, so it might not seem like a danger to your teeth. But chewing on hard substances like ice can make your teeth prone to chipping. Ice can damage your tooth enamel or even cause tooth pain or a dental emergency.

The drinks you choose also impact your mouth’s health. Water is always your best choice, and coffee and tea are okay as long as you don’t add much extra sugar. Steer clear of sugary sodas and sports drinks whenever possible to keep the sugar from damaging your teeth. Alcohol and some medications can dry your mouth, so be sure to drink water regularly to prevent tooth damage.

Though the food you eat contributes to your tooth and overall mouth health, it’s important to follow good oral hygiene habits, too. Brush your teeth twice a day, and floss once a day to keep plaque from building up, regardless of the foods you enjoy.

The foods and drinks you consume are just part of your dental health. Anne Chee, DDS, and her team are experts in caring for your smile. Schedule an appointment online, or call our office today.

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