Foods and Drinks that Hurt Tooth Enamel - Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

Foods and Drinks that Hurt Tooth Enamel

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tooth enamel

Do you think about your tooth enamel each time you eat? Most people don’t. However, what you eat matters immensely to the health of your teeth and even your gums. Many foods that contain sugar tend to be harmful to your teeth and erode the tooth enamel quicker than non-sugary foods. Your tooth enamel is your protector against cavities, as the tooth enamel protects the softer inner parts of your teeth that can easily decay when tooth enamel is broken down. At Hardy Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, we can help you know what foods and drinks are good for your teeth and which ones you should cut back on (or avoid altogether).


Protect Your Tooth Enamel

Why is protecting the teeth so important? Well for starters, you only have one set of 28 adult teeth (32 if you still have your wisdom teeth). To retain your teeth, you must take care of them. Not practicing good oral hygiene habits can cause you to experience frequent cavities (a.k.a. tooth decay), root canals, dental extractions, periodontal treatment (gum disease treatment), tooth loss and more. The more you protect your teeth, the fewer problems you will have, which saves you $$$ at the dental office and protects your health in the long run. The teeth become damaged mainly through tooth decay and gum disease, but what you choose to eat makes a big difference.


Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Our mouths are full of bacteria. Some bacteria is good and helps us break down and digest the foods we eat. Other bacteria breaks down our tooth enamel, which is something we definitely don’t want. Certain bacterias use sugars in food to make an acidic substance (also known as plaque) that sticks to our teeth and slowly erodes the tooth enamel. When this plaque is not removed regularly, it will eventually erode the tooth enamel enough that the acid gets into the center of your tooth causing decay. Plaque will literally eat away your tooth, which is why you want to brush and floss often so this never happens. One of the best things you can do to protect your teeth is to be mindful of everything that comes in contact with your teeth—namely food and drinks—and take care to clean the teeth often.


Foods and Drinks to Avoid

What foods require the teeth to receive extra cleaning and care?

  • Sodas – This even includes diet sodas. Most sodas contain acids that weaken tooth enamel. If the soda has sugar in it, it’s even worse for your teeth as bacteria feeds on sugar.
  • Hard Candies – When you suck on hard candies, you’re getting exposure to sugar for longer periods of time. This also goes for breath mints and cough drops. Chewing on hard candies can also break or crack teeth, fillings and sealants.
  • Ice – This is a no-no for the same reason as chewing hard candies. It can easily break your teeth even though it’s just hard water. Take ice with your drinks if you want, just don’t chew it!
  • Lemonade and Sports Drinks – Citric acid is very damaging to tooth enamel. Lemonade has a mixture of sugar and acid, which is all you need for tooth decay. Brush after drinking lemonade. Sports drinks are also high in sugar, so be aware of this.
  • Citrus Fruits – Fruit is great for a healthier diet, but be aware that citrus fruits contain acids, just like lemonade does. Grapefruit and lemons are the worst for tooth decay and oranges have been found to be the least acidic. However, citric acids can erode your teeth quite easily, so always brush after eating citrus fruits!
  • Tea and Coffee – This doesn’t lead so much to tooth decay, but will lead to staining of the teeth if they aren’t cleaned often enough.
  • Candy – Candy in general is full of what main ingredient? Sugar! Remember, sugar is bad for the teeth. We all love a sweet treat here and there (or maybe every day). However, make sure you brush quite often if you eat a lot of candy.
  • Chewy Candy – The stickier the candy, the worse it is for your teeth. Chewy candies stick to teeth much more than other candies and can stay on the teeth for a long time. Have caution with these.


These are some of the most common culprits when it comes to plaque buildup and tooth decay, but many foods can contribute. Many drinks can erode your teeth as well, especially if they are very acidic. Does that mean you have to stop enjoying the foods and drinks you like? Not at all! It just means you need to be mindful about what you are putting in your mouth and brush more often. To learn more about foods and drinks we recommend avoiding and even indulging in, call Hardy Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics today at (720) 887-6003!