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6 Foods That Are (Mostly) Good For Us But Can Be Bad For Our Teeth

Posted on July 8, 2014 | in Foods for Dental Health | by

We all know the obvious offenders that are all too inviting to the cavity creeps; sweets, sodas, & energy drinks…among others.

But did you know some foods that are considered healthy can also be bad for our teeth?

6 Healthy Foods That Can Be Bad For Our Teeth

1. Citrus Fruits

Is Citrus Fruit Bad For Teeth?

Sure, vitamin C is good for us – and our smiles, but taking in too much citrus fruit can have detrimental effects on the health of our teeth and gums.

“The problem with eating too much citrus fruits – or drinking too much lemon water – is that the acids can soften and erode tooth enamel,” says NYC cosmetic dentist Dr. Rastegar. “Once tooth enamel is gone, it doesn’t grow back.”

You can read ABC News’ syndication of this original Women’s Health article here.

Lemons and limes are especially harsh, as are citrus fruit juices of any kind (since they’re concentrated and high in sugar). In fact, a 2011 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that grapefruit juice is nearly as erosive as Coca-Cola.

So take it easy on the citrus fruits…scurvy shouldn’t be that big of a concern these days!

2. Almonds

Are Almonds Bad For Teeth?

We should all know by now how healthy almonds are for us, this superfood is high in “good fats” and vitamin E – which is good for our skin.

But constant crunching on almonds can damage our teeth, how you ask?

Because whole almonds are hard, and they can actually chip or fracture teeth when vigorously chomping away on these healthy nuts. Choose the sliced variety instead and skip the potential tooth trauma.

3. Pickled Foods

Are Pickled Foods Bad For Teeth?

Pickles – and pickled foods like mangoes, eggs, kimchi, sauerkraut, corned beef, pickled herring, pastrami…can you pickle any food?

Did we cover all corners of the globe with that pickled food list??

OK, back to the tooth news. Two contributing factors to the pickled foods being not so great for optimal oral health – sugar and acid. Lots of these types of foods have high concentrations of sugar and acid from the ingredients involved in pickling.

To counteract the negative dental health pickle puss effects, scarf down a hunk of cheese after noshing on the pickled pigs feet, or pop a piece of sugarless gum containing xylitol after punishing the digestive system with that mile high pastrami sammy.

Both xylitol and cheese help counter the negative sugary acidic side effects.

4. Dried Fruits

Are Dried Fruits Bad For Teeth?

This one seems to naturally follow the citrus, dried fruits are just that – dry – meaning dehydrated…as in all the water has been sucked out of them. And as we all know, water is essential to life here on Earth, a healthy body, and a healthy smile.

The problems arise when we skip right past the everything in moderation mantra and dive head first into that bag of dried bananas, oranges, or apples, among others. All the water is gone but the sugars remain, and those sugars love to stick to our teeth…when, left unchecked can turn into plaque and lead to tooth decay.

Again, rinse and repeat with the water to help limit the dried fruit tooth damage.

5. Coffee

Is Coffee Bad For Our Teeth?

Really? Coffee??

Hasn’t there been multiple studies (or at least attention grabbing headlines) about how coffee is good for our teeth – and overall health as well?

We won’t get into that debate here, yet. But it turns out, according to this ABC News & Women’s Health article that coffee contributes to staining our teeth, which then contributes to plaque buildup – if left unchecked.

The NYC dentist listed in the article, Dr. Jennifer Jablow, D.D.S. says, “consider switching to iced coffee and drinking it through a straw to reduce contact with your teeth.”

You might also want to consider avoiding added sugar in your brew and pouring in a little milk to help offset the acidity, suggests the good dentist Jablow.

6. Peanut Butter

Is Peanut Butter Bad For Our Teeth?

Who doesn’t love peanut butter?

Peanut butter may be the perfect snack food alternative to satisfy that sweet tooth, but since its so sticky it latches onto our chompers and doesn’t let go.

This sticky factor is what makes peanut butter one of the 6 foods that are mostly good for us, but can be bad for our teeth. Dr. Jablow recommends opting for the natural variety as there is less added sugar.

When food sticks to our teeth – and we don’t take steps to wash it away with water or brush it off – the accumulation of sugars can lead to plaque buildup. And that’s not good for our teeth, plaque buildup can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Water Is Always Good For Our Teeth & Gums

When in doubt after eating some of these potential smile wrecking foods, chug some water and maybe give a swish here or a gargle there. Just be sure NOT to brush your teeth immediately following meals or snacks with acidic foods, doing so can actually contribute to erosion of our tooth enamel.

See why this Kansas City, MO dentist says timing is everything when it comes to brushing our teeth.
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Image Credit: Pickled Foods by Karl Mooney

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+Chris Barnard is Managing Editor of, a patient-centric Social Dental Network blog dedicated to enabling the digital dental health conversation - and the eradication of the cavity creeps.
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