Surprising Food And Drinks That Are Bad For Your Teeth

Surprising Food And Drinks That Are Bad For Your Teeth

We all know the usual suspects when it comes to food and drinks that are terrible for your teeth. Soda, candy, and coffee often get much of the blame when people think about food and drinks that are harmful to your gums and teeth.

And, of course, if you go overboard on the sweets and ignore your dental health, your teeth will suffer. But, there are plenty of other foods that can be detrimental to your teeth. Read on to find out about foods that are surprisingly bad for your teeth. 

White Bread

Sliced white bread
(Gamzova Olga/

White bread contains added sugar, and when your saliva breaks down the bread, it can cause tooth decay. It’s also really good at getting into the crevices in your teeth. According to Walbridge Dental, “Additionally, acid is released when the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth feed off these simple sugars. These acids lead to tooth decay because the enamel on your teeth becomes weakened or eroded by the acid.” As with most foods having it in moderation is okay. Substituting whole wheat bread is a better option because it doesn’t break down into sugar as easily.


Pickles on a wooden table.
(Pavel Savelev/

Okay, so this one hits home. I was a classic pregnant person that craved pickles above my normal pickle cravings. At one point I wondered, “How many pickles are too many pickles?”

Pickles made with vinegar, typically the type found in US grocery stores, can contribute to tooth decay. However, there is some hope, according to a 2020 study. Fermented pickles may actually promote dental health, because of probiotics. The study stated these pickles might actually “reduce the incidence and severity of cavities.”

Mixed Drinks

Various mixed drinks on a bar top.

Alcohol can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums if imbibed regularly. And when you add soda or juice to the alcoholic mix, the effects can be even worse. The pH level of some alcohol is low, which means it’s more acidic.

A study published in 2020 investigated the erosive effects of different types of alcoholic beverages. When alcohol is mixed, whether in malt liquors or mixed drinks, sugar adds to the equation. The study found, that “excessive use and frequency of some types of alcoholic beverages can be associated with both factors of dental erosion due to its chemical properties and predisposition to cause vomiting. Therefore, the exaggerated and frequent consumption of alcohol is one of the factors related to dental erosion.”


Ice cubes stacked.
(Valentyn Volkov/

Not only is chewing on ice one of many people’s all-time biggest pet peeves (ahem, me included), it’s all-around bad for your teeth. Not only can it ruin your enamel making you more prone to cavities, but it can also break or chip your teeth. It can also damage previous dental work. So, next time you feel the need to chew on ice, maybe grab a celery stick or carrot instead.

Fruit Juice 

(Tatjana Baibakova/

Fruit juice is sneaky. It kind of just masquerades around as a healthy drink. We know the health benefits of eating fruit, and it would seem reasonable to think that drinking fruit juice would also be beneficial. That sadly isn’t the way it works though.

Not only can fruit juice be detrimental to your overall health, but it’s also really bad for your teeth. Juice is processed, and in that process, it loses a lot of the fiber, calcium, and other nutrients of the actual fruit, all while keeping most of the sugar. 

Orange juice, for instance, is one of the worst juices to drink regularly. Not only is it high in sugar, but the acidity will also cause tooth decay. A 2009 study found that orange juice was worse on teeth than whitening agents of the time. “Orange juice markedly decreased hardness and increased roughness of tooth enamel,” the study goes on to state. If you need to get your juice fix, it’s best to drink juice with a straw as an occasional treat.

Energy Drinks

Various energy drinks.
(Keith Homan/

Again high acidity and sugar content is the culprit here in causing tooth decay. A 2012 study on sports and energy drinks stated, “The researchers found that damage to enamel was evident after only five days of exposure to sports or energy drinks, although energy drinks showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks. In fact, the authors found that energy drinks caused twice as much damage to teeth as sports drinks.”

According to the study, decreasing energy drink consumption, rinsing out the mouth with water after drinking an energy drink, and chewing sugar-free gum could help reduce the risk of tooth decay. As with most foods and drinks, experts advise waiting 30 minutes or an hour before brushing your teeth after eating or drinking because it could just exacerbate the issue.

Citrus Fruits 

Various citrus fruits cut on a plate.

Much like fruit juices, the fruits in the citrus family are hard on teeth. Oranges, grapefruits, limes, lemons, and other citrus fruits can be healthy sources of vitamin C and other nutrients. Eaten in moderation these fruits are healthful. However, when eaten in excess, these fruits can start to deteriorate your enamel, cause discoloration, and exacerbate sensitive teeth, according to Colgate.

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