You probably already know that sugary foods, acidic drinks and gooey candies are pretty bad for your teeth—putting you at a greater risk of tooth decay.
Of course, brushing and flossing twice a day certainly helps protect you, but you might be surprised to learn just how many other types of foods can do a number on your oral health.
Here are just 10 to watch out for:
Condiments and Sauces
It’s easy to forget how much sugar actually goes into all those bottles of flavored stuff sitting on the shelves on the inside of your refrigerator door. Everything from ketchup and salad dressing to barbecue sauce and pasta sauce often comes loaded with sugar that will no doubt cause problems for your teeth if stuck to them and left for long periods of time.
Not only does white bread contain more sugar—it also may come with added sweeteners, too. And that’s bad news for your pearly whites. Those sugars dissolve fast when you start chomping away, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. And because of bread’s texture, it’s easy for small pieces to get lodged in between your teeth, too.
Apples are super healthy, right? Absolutely, but maybe not so much for your teeth. Apples are quite acidic, so they can erode enamel. Likewise, biting into them can cause chips or cracks. Try cutting them into smaller pieces and drinking plenty of water afterwards to wash away some of the acidity.
Citrus fruit may as well be the king of acidity when it comes to healthy foods that damage your teeth. If you’re a big fan of flavoring your water with citrus flavors, consider drinking it through a straw so it doesn’t reach as much surface area on your teeth.
Dried fruit can be a nice sweet snack, but you have to be careful when reading the labels to check for added sugars. They also tend to be a pretty gooey food, and when something that sweet gets left stuck on the surface or between your teeth for a long time, you could end up paying for it later.
Here’s another one to add to the “gets stuck in my teeth” category. Everyone has had it happen before, and it can be almost impossible to get those tiny pieces of popcorn out without floss. Luckily, the discomfort it tends to create should be enough to encourage you to dislodge those pieces as soon as possible, which you’ll want to do anyway if you want to prevent any bacterial growth.
Anything with a lot of vinegar is going to be a problem for your teeth—and pickles are one of them. The pickles themselves are fine, but the acidic brine they’re swimming in is not. Gulp down a nice glass of water after you’ve had one to avoid any damage to your tooth enamel.
Yikes, what could be so bad about plain old bottled water? While you certainly are better off drinking it as opposed to chugging some pickle brine or sucking on a lemon, the reality is that bottled water is more acidic than tap water, mainly due to purification. Perhaps this is just one more good reason to avoid buying bottled water all together so you can also stop contributing to so much unnecessary plastic waste.
You love the salty, crunchy texture of potato chips. The fact that they shatter into a million pieces may feel satisfying in your mouth, but it means danger for your teeth. Those small pieces turn gooey when mixed with your saliva, making it easy for them to get stuck and hide in all sorts of places. The result? A perfect environment for acid-producing bacteria.
Traditional brand name peanut butters contain loads of sugar, but that doesn’t mean those who buy organic and all-natural brands aren’t off the hook. The sticky texture of peanut butter molds to areas of your mouth like glue, which is bad news of course for your teeth. Besides making sure you always choose a natural brand with no added sugar, it helps to drink some water and use your tongue to give a quick swipe of your teeth as you do it.
You certainly don’t have to give all these foods up. Just make sure you drink water and swish a little of it around your mouth after consuming it, use a toothpick or floss to remove pieces that get stuck between your teeth and make sure you keep up with brushing well twice a day.
Your dentist will appreciate it during your next visit.