7 Worst Foods For Your Teeth (and What You Should Replace Them With)


What if getting your dentist off your back was as easy as changing your weekly grocery list?

No matter how well you brush and floss your teeth, there are some foods that are going to cause them damage. And if you’re constantly eating things that are bad for your teeth, then no amount of thorough brushing will keep you out of the dentist’s chair.

That’s where we come in. We’ve rounded up a list of foods that are bad for your teeth, but we’ve also made recommendations for what to replace them with. Which foods should you ditch, and what’s the tastiest switch? Keep reading to find out!


Woman eating healthy peanut butter sandwich cracker sitting at park, appetizer lunch box.

Most people don’t assume crackers are bad for teeth because they aren’t covered in sugar or made of anything acidic. However, the sugar is actually hiding in plain sight. As these starchy snacks break down, they turn into simple sugars. And because cracker remnants tend to linger in our teeth, crackers are secretly accelerating your tooth decay, one bite at a time.

We recommend that you replace your crackers with healthy nuts like almonds or pistachios. And when you do indulge in crackers, consider brushing your teeth afterward right away so the simple sugars don’t have time to attack your teeth.

RELATED: 25 Best Healthy Snacks For Weight Loss

Sour candy

Close-up of pretty young woman eating colorful jelly candies at home. Addiction concept.

It’s an open secret that, after popcorn, sour candy is the best thing to snack on while you’re sitting in the movie theater. Unfortunately, sour candy is a real “double threat” to your teeth. In addition to the sugar brimming on the surface of foods like sour straws, the high acidity of this candy may eat away at the enamel of your teeth before you know it.

Believe it or not, chocolate is much healthier for your teeth, and we’d recommend switching out some of your sour treats for sweeter chocolate ones. And as with the crackers, you can always brush your teeth after eating sour candy to mitigate most of the potential damage.

Citrus Fruits

Sometimes, foods that are otherwise very healthy can still be bad for your teeth. For example, foods such as oranges and lemons taste great and are filled with vitamins. Unfortunately, they are also full of citrus which will go right to the enamel of your teeth and begin the process of tooth decay.

The simplest solution, then, is to embrace other healthy fruits that don’t have citrus in them. For example, swapping out your oranges and lemons for bananas and apples will ensure you still have a healthy diet as well as healthy teeth.

RELATED: 7 Surprising Things That Happen When You Eat Lemons Every Day

Carbonated soda

A few of the foods on this list are going to be less surprising than others. For example, we all know that carbonated soda is bad for your teeth, but most people don’t know just how bad it is. Every time you sip a soda, the sugar in it begins working with the bacteria already in your mouth to decay your teeth. And that chemical process will still be happening for 20 minutes after your last sip!

If you don’t mind a drink without caffeine, the best alternative to soda will always be sparkling water. You still get the thrill of drinking something carbonated, all while swapping out the sugary soda for water filled with fluoride that will give your teeth a fighting chance.

Pickles (and other pickled foods)

Pregnant woman eating pickles in kitchen

It’s something of an acquired taste, but many people love the sour burst of flavor that comes from biting into a pickle. This is why we have taken to pickling so many different foods and giving them a hint of that sour goodness. Unfortunately, pickles and pickled foods are a real “double whammy” threat to your teeth because they are filled with sugar and high in acidity.

If you can’t imagine yourself giving up pickles, we have some good news: you don’t necessarily have to. As long as you are willing to eat some cheese when you eat pickles or just chew gum containing xylitol afterward, you can nullify the acidity while still enjoying the food.

RELATED: 8 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Eat Cheese Every Day

Very chewy candy

While we have mostly been singling out certain types of foods, there is an entire category of treats that are bad for your teeth: chewy candies. From Sweet Tarts to Tootsie Rolls to Skittles, foods that are especially chewy are bad for your teeth because they linger in your mouth and interact with the bacteria to promote tooth decay.

If you want to indulge your sweet tooth without decaying it, trade out your chewy faves for some dark chocolate. You’ll still get a burst of sweet flavor, but it won’t stick in your mouth for nearly as long, and the lower sugar count makes dark chocolate a (relatively) healthy treat.


Portrait of a cute young girl with bright makeup isolated over violet background, eating popcorn

You may have heard some people tout popcorn as a healthy alternative to potato chips. While that is generally true, popcorn is very bad for your teeth because it is full of lactic acid that will decay them. On top of that, popcorn husks can be difficult to remove from your teeth, and you can even crack your teeth open if you accidentally bite into an unpopped kernel.

If you want a replacement snack that is yummy and better for your teeth, try switching to trail mix. You get plenty of flavor, nice variety, and no lactic acid, husks, or kernels that threaten your oral health.

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