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6 Foods You’d Never Guess Are Bad for Your Teeth

It’s well-known that sugary foods and beverages damage your teeth. Those who fill up on candy, fried foods, soda, energy drinks and alcoholic beverages are at higher risk of dental problems. That’s because a poor diet can lead to plaque buildup.

Plaque is a bacterial film that sticks to your teeth, reducing tooth enamel and leading to cavities and gingivitis. In severe instances, plaque builds up within the gums and causes your teeth’s bones to break down. 

Dentists can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining healthy oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, rinsing with mouthwash and getting regular cleanings. However, diet also makes a difference in maintaining healthier teeth and gums. 

While you may know what a good dental diet looks like, it may surprise you that even some healthy foods are bad for oral health. Here are six healthy foods you should avoid for stronger teeth.

Fermented Foods

Nobody will argue the benefits of fermented foods for your body — unless it pertains to your dental health. Pickled vegetables — onions, cucumbers, carrots and more — are some of the worst foods for your teeth because of the amount of vinegar, which is highly acidic.

The pH scale ranges from zero to 14, with anything under seven considered acidic and anything above considered non-acidic. Foods must dip below a pH score of 4.6 to ferment correctly. 

According to the Oral Health Foundation, foods with pH values below 5.5 softens the tooth enamel and harm your teeth. Of course, raw vegetables are still some of the best foods for your teeth, even helping to remove plaque. 

Citrus Foods

Oranges, lemons and grapefruits are loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals — but, like fermented foods, citrus acidity also makes these foods bad for oral health. 

A study of children’s dental health in Germany found that citrus-flavored Haribo Gold Bears Gummi Candy caused enamel softening after two to four minutes after exposure. Another 17 out of 30 non-sugar citrus brands also demonstrated erosion after consumption.

Although brushing your teeth is crucial after eating potentially-harmful foods, you may want to wait about 30 minutes after consuming citrus foods and beverages — just enough time for your enamel to remineralize and to prevent further damage.

Nuts and Seeds

Snacking on a handful of almonds is much healthier than munching on a bag of potato chips. Some nuts and seeds are harder to chew than others, though. 

Your teeth are strong and can impart a lot of chewing force — yet, they can’t bite easily into everything. You could risk breaking a tooth if you are prone to toothaches and brittleness. Additionally, seeds can get caught between your teeth and within the cracks and crevices of your gums.

Brushing your teeth after eating nuts and seeds is crucial for maintaining good oral health. Dentists often recommend getting a new toothbrush every three to four months to ensure it removes food effectively. You should also start flossing daily to remove whatever food debris lingers between your teeth. 


Bread may seem benign when it comes to oral health, but it can be damaging. That’s because your saliva turns starches into sugar when you chew on refined carbohydrates like white bread.

Have you ever noticed that bread turns gummy when eating a sandwich? Particles can attach to your teeth more easily or get stuck in the crevices of your teeth, making it more likely that you’ll develop cavities.

If giving up bread is too difficult for you, opt for whole wheat or multigrain bread instead, which is less refined than white bread and contains fewer sugars. 

Dried Fruit

Although many people eat dried fruit as a low-caloric snack for weight management, their stickiness makes it easier for them to cling to your teeth. Of course, sugar content becomes concentrated in dried fruit, too. 

Many fried fruits also contain plaque acids that, again, break down tooth enamel and cause significant harm in the long run. 

It’s always best to swap dried fruit for fresh fruit, such as grapes and apples — this will protect your teeth from cavities, enamel erosion and plaque buildup.


Popcorn is another healthy snack food like nuts, seeds and dried fruits — but have you ever had a popcorn kernel get stuck between your teeth? Some people even get popcorn lodged in the gums, which causes an infection. 

You could also create further damage to your gums when you try removing a popcorn remnant yourself using your fingers or a sharp instrument.

One of the most significant risks of eating popcorn is exposure to lactic acid. Popcorn produces ample amounts of lactic acid, which lowers the pH value in your mouth, dissolving calcium and creating cavities. 

Smile More Brightly By Avoiding the Worst Foods for Your Teeth

Not all healthy foods promote good dental health. By avoiding these troublesome food items and swapping them for better alternatives, you can ensure optimal teeth and gums and fewer cavities for a brighter smile. 

Consuming certain foods can unexpectedly harm your dental health. For instance, fermented foods like pickled vegetables, while nutritious, contain high levels of acidic vinegar that erodes enamel. Similarly, citrus fruits, though rich in vitamins, have acids that can soften enamel, leading to decay. Even healthy snacks like nuts and seeds can be problematic; their hardness can damage teeth, and small particles can get lodged, causing irritation. Consulting McLean orthodontists can help you understand the impact of your diet on your dental health and guide you on maintaining a tooth-friendly diet.


What is plaque?

Plaque is a bacterial film that sticks to your teeth, causing a reduction in tooth enamel, leading to cavities and gingivitis. In severe cases, plaque builds up within the gums and causes your teeth’s bones to break down.

What are the worst foods for your teeth?

Some of the worst foods for your teeth are sugary foods and beverages such as candy, fried foods, soda, energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages. In addition, fermented foods, citrus foods, nuts and seeds, bread, dried fruit, and popcorn can also be harmful to your teeth.

What makes fermented foods bad for oral health?

Fermented foods such as pickled vegetables contain vinegar, which is highly acidic. Foods with pH values below 5.5 soften the tooth enamel and harm your teeth. While raw vegetables are good for removing plaque, pickled vegetables should be avoided due to their high acidity.

How can citrus foods damage your teeth?

Citrus foods are highly acidic, which can cause enamel softening and erosion after consumption. Brushing your teeth after eating citrus foods is crucial, but you should wait about 30 minutes for your enamel to remineralize to prevent further damage.

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