Foods that hurt:
It seems strange that fruits like lemons and grapefruits, which are rich in vitamin C and offer your body lots of nutritional value, could be so damaging to your teeth. Aside from their high vitamin content, they are also extremely acidic, meaning they will wear away at your enamel over time. Since these fruits are great for your otherwise, you shouldn’t avoid them all together- just limit the amount you eat per day and brush afterwards.
–Hard and Chewy Candies
Chewy candy like caramel or taffy sticks to your teeth for a long time, giving bacteria extra time to interact with the sugar and produce enamel-eroding acid. Hard candies, while not as sticky, sit in the mouth for an extended period of time while they dissolve, bathing your teeth in sugary residue. Many sour and chewy candies are also flavored with citric acid, the same substance that makes lemons and limes dangerous to tooth enamel.
Pickled cucumbers- or any pickled foods- are created by soaking the food in acid, usually vinegar-based. Most people don’t eat pickles on a regular basis, though, so having one occasionally is unlikely to affect your dental health overall.
Most people know that sugary sodas are harmful to your teeth, but what you may not realize is that even sugar-free diet sodas still contain large amounts of enamel-eroding citric and phosphorus acid. If you absolutely can’t do without soft drinks, try drinking them at mealtimes instead of throughout the day. Your after-meal brush and/or rinse will help neutralize the acids.
–Sports and Energy Drinks
They may seem like a healthier alternative to sodas, but most sports and energy drinks are actually even more acidic than soft drinks, and can be more damaging to teeth when consumed on a regular basis.
Red wines can stain your teeth, but even white wines contain erosive acids, which allow stains to really penetrate the teeth. The tannins contained in red wine also tend to dry out your mouth, stopping the flow of saliva from rinsing the acids away.
Saltines and other types of white flour-based crackers contain high amounts of refined carbohydrates, which are quickly converted to sugar (and in turn, acid) by the carb-loving bacteria in your mouth. Crackers also tend to turn to a sticky paste-like substance when chewed, which allows them to penetrate down in to the creases in your teeth. Since crackers are unlikely to be a large part of your diet, it’s okay to have them occasionally, but make sure to brush afterwards.
Coffee is another unsurprising source of stains, and it’s also- you guessed it- fairly acidic. Compared with smokers and tea drinkers, stains on the teeth of coffee drinkers are often more resistant to bleaching or whitening, and more likely to become stained again after treatment.
Foods that help:
It’s not technically a food, but it is a great weapon against decay-causing acid. Chewing sugar-free gum after meals stimulates saliva production, which helps rinse harmful material and food debris away from your teeth. Sugar-free gum is often sweetened with a chemical called xylitol, which helps fight bacteria as well.
This one seems like a no brainer, but many Americans don’t drink nearly enough water. Besides helping to wash away acid and residue from your teeth, most US cities add fluoride to the tap water for extra help fighting decay.
Dairy is the main source of calcium for most people. Getting enough calcium is one of the best ways to keep your teeth strong and healthy. Lots of people are lactose intolerant these days, so if you’re one of those people, take a calcium supplement to make sure you’re getting enough.
–High-fiber, Leafy Vegetables
Vegetables like spinach and broccoli deliver a great dose of nutrients to your body, and they’re also great for your teeth because they require so much chewing. All that chewing stimulates your saliva glands to produce more, and the food itself helps scrub your teeth clean as it’s chewed.