Best food for your teeth

Taking care of your teeth is important, especially if you lie to your dentist about flossing. Which everyone does… except me. I floss all the time, I swear!

That’s why my longtime dentist Juli Powell was kind enough to share her expertise on which foods are the worst for your teeth. It’s obvious that candy isn’t great for you, and also that eating it in moderation won’t call forth the cavity monster (especially if you brush afterwards). But did you know that sour foods are worse than sugary ones? Read on to learn which 10 foods do the most damage, and why. Your dentist will thank you.

1. Processed carbohydrates (e.g. white bread)

“Carbs are really sugars. Your saliva has an enzyme called salivary amylase that can start the digestion process in your mouth, turning complex carbohydrates into sugar. If you’re snacking on crackers all day, you’re constantly keeping sugar in your mouth.

But the only reason sugar is bad is because the bacteria you have in your mouth eats the sugar and creates acid. If you had absolutely no plaque (which is impossible!), then there wouldn’t be anything to break down sugars to create acids and cause decay.

2. Alcohol

“Saliva is one of your first defenses to dilute plaque and acids. It also has anti-bacterial properties. Anything that’s drying your mouth is bad, and people who drink a lot of alcohol have very dry mouths. A little bit isn’t bad, but if you already suffer from dry mouth, a drink or two is going to make it worse.”

3. Ice

“Chewing ice is not a good idea. Ice is so hard! We do a crown once or twice a year for someone who bit into ice. It’s like biting into a rock. If you have large, old fillings, you could easily break a tooth. The coldness can also make your teeth slightly more brittle. It’s just a physics thing. Your mouth is warm. If you put this cold, rigid thing in there and bite on it, it’s bad for your teeth.”

4. Dried fruit

“We like dried fruit! We’re not saying throw it all out, but it has the same amount of sugar as fruit that hasn’t been dried, plus it’s sticky and staying on your teeth. If you’re eating it all day and not brushing, you could see some serious decay.”

5. Sticky, sour candy

“Sour candy is worse than sweet candy, because sour candy has just as much sugar, plus they’ve usually added citric acid. It’s also harder on teeth because it stays on there longer. Sour, sticky, and candy are the trifecta of bad stuff for your teeth.

6. Sports and energy drinks

“These are really tough on teeth. They do more acid damage than soda. Sports drinks first, energy drinks second, soda third. It depends on the type of sports drink; some have more citric acid than others. The tests I’ve seen are on the lemon-lime ones.

Plus, they also have a high amount of sugar. Water is still the most awesome thing on the planet, especially straight out of the tap, due to the fluoride.”