Some of the most normal foods could be absolutely awful for your pearly whites and gums. We caught up with top dentists to see which foods they steer clear of—and some are pretty surprising.
Put down that bowl of microwave popcorn, friends. “Countless number of people come in with cracked teeth from eating half-popped popcorn kernels, not to mention the sneaky husk,” says Jonathan Neman, DDS, a dentist in New York City “Popcorn husk is notorious for finding its way in between teeth and causing gum pain, too.”
As tasty as those dried pineapples are and no matter how much you love that fiber boost from prunes, dried fruit is a disaster for teeth. “Not only are the sugars concentrated, but they are very sticky and sit into the grooves of your molars causing cavities,” explains Dr. Neman. Check out these 13 things dentists want you to know.
Sweet coffee drinks
Y Photo Studio/Shutterstock
Y Photo Studio/Shutterstock
Those venti cups with extra pumps of the sweet stuff are your worst dental nightmare. “Constant exposure to the milk and sugar over the course of an hour or more make it difficult for the saliva to combat against the sugars and acids produced by the bacteria in our mouths,” Dr. Neman says. “Saliva is the great protector of our teeth, and with the constant sugar attacks from taking sips of sugary drinks, over time the salivary glands fail to keep up.” Yikes!
Forget the leftover pumpkin seeds you have if you like your teeth in good shape, says Dr. Neman. “Many seeds require cracking them open with our front teeth, easily causing chipping of the edges of our front teeth.” Find out 11 things your dentist wishes you’d do differently.
Hot lemon water
If you’re heard hot lemon water makes a great coffee replacement for your morning drink, think twice before imbibing because dentists say it’s bad news for your enamel. “Tooth wear is caused by the acidity of the lemon which erodes the enamel of the teeth,” Raha Sepehrara, DDS, explained to Metro UK. “Repetitive and frequent exposure to acidic drinks or foods can dissolve the enamel of the teeth, exposing the inner layer of the teeth called dentine, which is yellower than enamel and also very sensitive.”
You need to stop chewing ice ASAP, because it’s destructive, says Jon Marashi, DDS. “Ice is simply too hard for tooth enamel and causes stress fractures in the teeth. It can even break a piece of your tooth.” Find out about the illnesses dentists find first.
“Energy drinks are super acidic, and they have low pH and high sugar content. I’ve seen a rise in amounts of decay among college students who consume this in excess to stay up all night, whether studying or partying,” shares Dr. Marashi. “It coats all the teeth and therefore affects all of them equally. You’ll end up with a mouth full of cavities!”
They may be everyone’s favorite movie snack, but they’re far from healthy. “Raisinets are the devil!” says Dr. Marashi. “It’s surprising, but chocolate alone is less harmful than raisins. The sugar content is higher and the sticky aspect of raisins get stuck in the groves of your teeth. The chocolate is just kerosene for the fire!” Here are 7 signs of disease your teeth can reveal.
“Athletic drinks were created to re-hydrate athletes and replenish lost nutrients and electrolytes,” says Krysta Manning, DMD, MBA, and owner of Solstice Dental & Aesthetics in Louisville, Kentucky. “However, these health benefits often come with a heavy dose of sugars. Liquid sugars are notorious for causing cavities in hard to reach places and are even more detrimental when introduced into a dry oral environment.” Unless you’re a high-performance athlete, re-hydrate with plain old water.
PB & J
“Each of the two ingredients is often laced with added sugar,” tells Dr. Manning. “Add in the sticky texture and you’ve got a perfect recipe for cavities. If you’re going to enjoy this treat, I recommend looking for peanut butters and jellies with no added sugar and drinking lots of water. If possible, brush or chew a xylitol gum afterward to make sure all of the sticky sugar is removed from your teeth.”
If canned fruit sounds healthy because it has “fruit” in the name, think again. “While fruit is typically considered a healthy option, fruit in a can is often surprisingly unhealthy. If it’s packaged in syrup and coated in sugar, these options become just one step removed from candy,” says Dr. Manning. Here’s how bad it is to only brush your teeth once a day.
Your favorite no-calorie drink isn’t as healthy as it claims to be. Gasp. This study found that exposure to carbonated waters, like seltzer, can be as damaging for teeth enamel as orange juice.
Pashu Ta Studio/Shutterstock
Pashu Ta Studio/Shutterstock
It’s not just gummy bears, but all gummy-style candies should be avoided like the plague because they ruin teeth says Lawrence Fung, DDS, a cosmetic dentist at Silicon Beach Dental and spokesperson for Hello “Naturally Friendly” Oral Care. “They are terrible for your teeth since they stick to all areas of the tooth and the longer the contact the sweets have with the teeth, the more acid gets produced by cavity-causing bacteria.” Check out all the other top causes of tooth decay.
Sorry to ruin your next backyard BBQ party, but those sticky red sauces that turn everything delicious are cavities waiting to happen. “Barbecued meats, like spare ribs, are some of the worst foods for teeth because of the caramelized sugars used in the sauce,” explains Frederick Baker, DDS. “You have the potential to crack your teeth on parts of the meat that may have over-caramelized, and the extra sugar is never good.” While you’re at it, avoid these other summer favorites that can stain your teeth.
Sorry, snack lovers, granola bars maybe be full of fiber and minerals, but they’re awful for oral hygiene and not as healthy as you’d think. “They have a good amount of sugar which is not good for teeth,” says Dr. Baker. “Some brands also coat their granola bars with additional sugars for crunch, so it’s two-fold, where you have the potential to break teeth as well as break down enamels with sugars.” Next, find out the secrets your dentist will never tell you.