Are you concerned about your family’s oral health?  If you have cavities or other oral health concerns, you might be doing everything right – but not paying proper attention to the foods you are eating.

Proper dental hygiene is a combination the basics: brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day and visiting your dentist for a check-up every six to nine months – but is also greatly influenced by what we eat.. or fail to eat!

In basic terms, a tooth’s worst enemy is acid and conversely its best allies are foods that neutralize acids, stimulate saliva and provide minerals and vitamins to repair tooth enamel.  Acids can either come directly from foods and beverages consumed, or produced by oral bacteria which thrive on sugar and produce acid.

In this article, we provide a quick reference guide to the 5 worst foods for your teeth – including why. In our subsequent article, we will reference the top 5 foods for your teeth. We hope you’ll see that while some foods contribute to the build-up of tooth decay and potentially lead to gum disease, others have a positive effect that help protect our teeth.

It’s important to note that it’s not necessarily about eliminating all of worst foods, and even if you did, it wouldn’t guarantee perfect teeth.  The point is that dental hygiene is a combination of your actions.  If you want to do the right thing for your teeth, it’s important not to ignore any of the critical factors involved.

Top 5 worst foods for your teeth

Here’s a surprise: foods such as crackers, bread, chips, or pasta can be just as harmful to the teeth as candy! Starches made from white flour are simple carbohydrates, which breakdown into sugars. Once these starches breakdown into sugars, bacteria feed on them and produce the main culprit – acid.

Another surprise – fruit!  We all think of fruit as healthy.  In many ways it is, but when citrus fruits or other acidic foods are sucked on or stay in the mouth for too long they can create the conditions that cause erosion of the tooth enamel.

Fruit juice is in the same category – it contains high amounts of sugar and if kept in the mouth over extended periods of time, can cause erosion.  Here’s a tip: if you regularly drink fruit juices, use a straw to avoid a having a large amount of liquid in your mouth at once.

No surprise with the next two items – candy and soft drinks. The worst kind of candies are those which last longer or stick to your teeth. Hard or sticky candies make it more challenging for saliva to do its job of washing away the sugar. These include suckers, toffee and jelly beans.

Here’s a tip if you just can’t get away from eating those tempting sweets: choose the ones that dissolve quickly in your mouth.

Other sugar laden food like baking or desserts contain a high amount of sugar as well. A tip for enjoying these types of sweets is to eat them after a main meal instead of several times a day between meals. Whenever you have the opportunity, brush your teeth after eating your dessert.

Soft drinks, including bottled iced teas and lemonade are especially bad for the teeth. Not only do they contain loads of sugar, but both regular and diet soft drinks also contain the mineral phosphorus which has been shown by research to wear away the enamel of teeth, leaving them more prone to decay.