Foods That Are Bad for Your Teeth

It’s never too early to start caring for your teeth. No matter what age you are, proper care of your pearly whites will go a long way. It all begins with the types of food you eat. This guide will explore foods that are bad for teeth and foods considered healthy for maintaining good overall dental care.

The Worst Foods and Drinks for Teeth

Although these items may be delicious to eat and taste great, they can actually cause real damage to the health of your teeth in the long-term. 

Eating foods that tend to be stickier, more processed, or highly acidic can cause issues such as plaque, enamel issues, and cavities. However, when you eat the proper foods, your teeth will be strong, clean, and cavity-free. We recommend that you review this list of foods to avoid for healthy teeth.

Candies & Sweets

Most everyone loves a sweet treat every once in a while. It’s very common to have candy at the movies, trade sweet treats during the holidays, and make your loved one their favorite baked good for celebration events. However, these sugary treats are among the worst foods for teeth.

Candy such as lollipops, jelly beans, and fruit snacks usually have lots of sugar that will sit in your mouth and can create cavities. Sour candy may also include acid that is particularly harsh on teeth. Chewy candy can get stuck to teeth and cause even more decay issues.

If you simply must have a sweet-tasting treat, we recommend a candy that dissolves quickly (such as chocolate) that you can quickly rinse away with a drink of water. You should also have sweet treats after a meal rather than snacks and then brush your teeth immediately afterward.

Processed Food

You have to be very intentional with your food choices to stay away from processed foods since these foods are practically everywhere. Processed foods can include:

  • White bread
  • Chips
  • Crackers
  • Other foods rich in simple carbohydrates

Potato chips, in particular, are bad for teeth because of the acid in the chips. Acid can do serious harm to your teeth if you don’t properly brush and floss your teeth after eating. Instead, try organic foods or complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and vegetables.

Sticky Foods

Another bad food for teeth is sticky foods. These could be candy or processed foods, but we wanted to specifically call them out because you should definitely avoid them.

Sticky foods include caramel, dried fruits, and other types of food that can stick to your teeth. These types of food can leave tiny morsels that get stuck in between teeth and cause decay or cavities. 

Dried fruits include raisins, figs, dates, and prunes. Either avoid these foods, select the fresh kind instead, or brush and floss afterwards.

Soda or Soft Drinks

Even though soda is technically a drink, we’re adding it to this list of foods to avoid for healthy teeth because it’s a common cause of tooth decay.

We previously mentioned how sugar and acid can cause havoc on a person’s teeth, and soda (or soft drinks) have both ingredients. So it’s no wonder that we’re calling this food item out as one you should avoid if you want healthy teeth.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a dark soda or light, the sugar and acid make for a harmful combination. And even if you happen to find a sugar-free soda, we still recommend that you choose another drink choice instead. You can substitute soda with water or unsweetened tea.

If you’re the type of person that has to start or end their day with a soda, we recommend that you wait a little while before brushing your teeth. The acid in the soda will soften your teeth and any brushing immediately afterwards may cause more harm than good.


Also a drink, alcohol is another food item that we consider bad for teeth. When you drink alcohol you eliminate saliva that helps to clean your mouth. Saliva not only helps to wash away food particles, it can also help fight decay and infections inside your mouth. 

Whether it’s beer, wine, or cocktails, limit your exposure to alcohol for the health of your teeth. Wine, specifically, has acid that can stick to the plaque in your mouth and cause issues. We recommend brushing your teeth before consuming wine, then waiting thirty minutes afterwards to brush again.


Although most fruits are considered among the best foods for healthy teeth, citrus fruits are another story. They simply have too much acid in them and, when part of a regular diet, may cause issues with your teeth.

Foods with a lot of citric acid include grapefruit, lemons, and limes. When you have too much of these types of food, the citric acid can destroy your teeth’s enamel, that protective covering that keeps your teeth looking healthy.

If you decide to drink a citrus fruit instead (like orange juice) we recommend using a straw so that you limit exposure to your teeth.


We know what you’re thinking: “How can ice possibly be bad for my teeth?” Sure, there’s no sugar or water in ice. However, in this case, it’s not the components of the food item, it’s how you consume it.

If you are a person who likes to chew ice, you can cause serious damage to your teeth. It may not seem like a big deal; after all, it’s just ice. This solid block of ice can hurt your teeth’s enamel or even the structure of your teeth if you chew too much or too hard.

Chewing ice may also cause issues if you have a crown or bridge in your teeth. Again, it’s the gnashing and smashing that can cause physical harm to the integrity of your teeth, so it’s best to avoid chewing ice at all costs.

Best Food for Teeth

Now that we’ve covered what we consider bad food for teeth, let’s take a look at the food you should eat for healthy teeth. Again, this is just the first step for proper caring of your teeth. Remember to also brush, floss, and use mouthwash daily.

Best food for your teeth include:

  • Fruits 
  • Vegetables
  • Grains  
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lean Meat
  • Fat-free milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Beans
  • Nuts

Foods with protein and vitamins help to strengthen your teeth and can prevent issues. 


Make sure you’re brushing your teeth daily and keeping up with routine dentist visits. Try some of the foods on the list of healthy foods for your teeth instead of sugary, sticky, and processed foods that are bad for them. Get in touch with us to schedule a comprehensive dental exam with Dr. Sara Boren, to help maintain strong teeth, healthy gums, and a long-lasting, beautiful smile!

Connect With Us

We think you deserve an elevated dental experience. Call (865) 687-9350 or click below to set up your first visit. We look forward to meeting you!