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4 Types of Food & Drinks Quietly Causing Tooth Decay, Says Dentist

You may not be aware of the impact these foods can have on your oral health.
FACT CHECKED BY Jordan Powers Willard

When it comes to eating healthy, many of us may overlook our oral health. However, eating certain food and drinking certain kinds of beverages can impact our mouths and teeth in numerous ways.

Research shows, for example, that various types of food can contribute to tooth decay—also known as tooth rot. This happens when the surface enamel of your teeth becomes compromised. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to cavities, infection, pain, and even the loss of your tooth.

We wanted to learn more about the foods that may contribute to tooth decay, so we spoke with Dr. Cary Goldstein, an Atlanta-based dentist at the Goldstein Dental Center.

"While regular brushing and flossing can help keep your teeth healthy, it's important to be aware of the foods that may be quietly rotting your teeth," Dr. Goldstein tells Eat This, Not That!

Read on to learn about how certain types of food and drinks may impact your oral health without you realizing it when you're not mindful of what you put in your mouth. Also, for more healthy eating tips that can also impact your smile, don't forget to also read This Is the Worst Food for Your Teeth, Dentist Says.

Sugary drinks

woman pouring soda

If you drink a lot of sugary drinks on a regular basis, you may be quietly damaging your teeth. Drinks like soda, energy drinks, and sweetened teas can possibly contribute to tooth decay over time.

"The sugar in these drinks easily sticks to your teeth and promotes the growth of acid-producing bacteria, which can lead to plaque buildup that causes cavities, decay, and discoloration of your teeth," explains Dr. Goldstein.

If you plan on drinking a sugary beverage, being proactive about your oral hygiene shortly thereafter is essential to the health of your teeth.

"Make sure to [drinks like this] in moderation and rinse your mouth with water afterward," recommends Dr. Goldstein.

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Sticky foods

This is one that people may not think about when it comes to tooth decay, but sticky foods like candy or even dried fruit can gradually evolve into an issue for your teeth as time progresses.

"These foods become lodged between your teeth and can be difficult to remove with brushing alone. They also often contain sugar, which can lead to decay over time," says Dr. Goldstein. "To reduce your risk of cavities, opt for healthier, non-sticky snacks such as vegetables, nuts, and cheese."

Acidic foods

teeth biting into lemon

Highly acidic foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and vinegar can weaken your enamel, according to Dr. Goldstein.

"Although these foods are healthy, the acids found in them can erode your enamel and cause decay," says Dr. Goldstein. "If you do choose to eat acidic foods, make sure to rinse your mouth with water afterwards to help neutralize the acid."

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Refined carbohydrates

This one may come as a surprise, but certain carbohydrates like bread and chips can also lead to tooth rot.

"Bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar found in carbohydrates, which can contribute to plaque buildup and cavities," explains Dr. Goldstein. "Make sure to brush and floss after eating carbohydrates. Also, choose healthier carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains."

At the end of the day, if you're concerned about potential tooth rot and want to better understand which food and beverages may be contributing to the current state of your oral health, you can always get more information by discussing you particular needs with your dentist.

"Being aware of the foods that may be quietly rotting your teeth can help you protect your smile and keep your teeth healthy for years to come," advises Dr. Goldstein.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha