Special Report

25 Foods and Drinks That Are Wrecking Your Teeth and Gums

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6. Carbonated drinks

Sugar is the villain again with sweetened sodas, but even the sugar-free or diet variety can be harmful because of the acidity. A single sip of soda, say dental experts, can harm teeth for about 20 minutes — renewed with every sip. Citrus-flavored sparkling waters are better, but their acidity can cause minor damage to enamel. Even unflavored carbonated water can cause problems, as some have a low pH (meaning a high acid level).

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7. Citrus fruit

Grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemonade, and the like are great sources of vitamin C and other nutrients — but they’re also highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel. After eating (or drinking) a big serving of citrus, it’s a good idea to wash your mouth out with water.

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8. Coffee

Any beverage (other than plain water) can encourage bacterial growth in the mouth, leading to tooth damage — coffee included. The tannins in coffee can also discolor your teeth. Even a single cup per day can turn them brownish-yellow. Needless to say, elaborate coffee drinks made with lots of syrups and other added ingredients are even worse for the teeth.

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9. Crackers

According to the website Ask the Dentist, “the #1 most cavity-causing (cariogenic) food there is” … saltine crackers. They’re considered even more potentially damaging than candy. They’re a simple starch, meaning that they convert almost instantly into sugar for mouth bacteria to feed on. The starch also turns gummy with saliva and is apt to stay lodged in your teeth even after you’ve finished snacking. Goldfish crackers and other varieties are just as bad.

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10. Dried fruit

Not only is dried fruit considerably higher in calories than fresh fruit, it also has much more sugar per piece, so is more apt to encourage bacterial growth. In addition, because it’s so dense and sticky, it tends to get stuck in the teeth where it can linger and do its damage over a period of hours.

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