How Specific Foods Can Affect Your Oral Health

There is no truer statement than “you are what you eat” when it comes to your teeth and gums. Drinking and eating starchy or sugar-filled foods can have a significant impact on your oral health. You are feeding the germs or bacteria that are in your mouth, which causes tooth decay and gum disease.

But it’s not all bad. Some foods can actually help fight plaque buildup. In this article, we go over which to stay away from or consume in moderation, and which foods to choose to help fight plaque.

How Food and Drink Affect Your Teeth

Plaque is a thin, invisible sticky film of bacteria and other materials. It covers the surface of your teeth. When sugar or starches in your mouth come into contact with plaque, acid forms. These acids attack your teeth for 20 minutes or longer after you finish eating. This leads to tooth decay, breaking down the gums, bone and teeth.


Food and Drinks That Are Bad for Your Oral Health

The main culprits may be obvious to most, but some may surprise you. Below, we list the main foods which can have a tremendous impact on your oral health. Foods that should be consumed in moderation or avoided altogether, if possible.

Sour Candy

Most of us know that candy is bad for your oral health. Sour candy, in particular, contains more acids than many of the others, and they are much harder on your teeth. Chewy varieties are particularly bad because they stick to your teeth for longer periods of time, which can lead to decay. If you’re craving something sweet, best to reach for chocolate, which can wash away far quicker.


Drinking alcohol dries out your mouth, and a dry mouth lacks saliva. Saliva is needed to keep your mouth healthy. It is what helps clear your mouth of harmful bacteria and prevents food from sticking to your teeth. It also helps repair tooth decay, gum disease and other infections. Keep your mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Carbonated Drinks

Carbonated drinks are loaded with sugar, and most contain phosphoric and citric acids that can wear away tooth enamel. They can also dry out your mouth and stain teeth, if they are dark in colour. It is best to drink them with a meal, to use a straw to bypass teeth and have some water afterwards. Your teeth will thank you.


Here is a surprising one. You would think that ice would be fine because it only contains water. Well, yes and no. Water is good….but chewing on a hard substance can damage enamel and increase your risk of a dental emergency, such as chipped, cracked or broken teeth. Using ice to chill beverages is great, but avoid chewing it.

Citrus Fruits

The acid content in citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes can erode enamel. It can make your teeth more vulnerable to decay. Squeezing a lemon or lime into water adds acid to drinks as well. If you want a good dose of antioxidants and vitamins, eat and drink citrus fruits in moderation at mealtime and rinse with water afterwards.

Dried Fruit

Another one that may be slightly surprising. They appear to be a healthy snack, and some are, but dried fruits such as apricots, prunes and figs are sticky. They cling to your teeth, leaving a whole lot of sugar behind. This does not mean you should not enjoy them. But you will want to rinse your mouth with water, brush and floss afterwards. Note that it is always a better choice to eat the fresh version over dried varieties.

Foods and Drinks That Are Good for Your Teeth

We all want to see the list of foods that are good for your teeth. So here it is. Many are foods that most of us enjoy, so adding the additional benefit of positive impacts to your oral health makes them taste even better, right?


Water hydrates your mouth and helps to wash away food particles and sugar, which can sit on your teeth and cause damage over time. Water has a plethora of health benefits, but it truly is a great option for oral health.

Dairy Products

Cheese and yogurt lovers, you now have another reason to enjoy these treats. Eating cheese rases the PH level in your mouth and lowers your risk of tooth decay. And chewing cheese also increases saliva in your mouth and provides calcium and protein, which strengthens enamel. Yogurt, like cheese, is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a good choice for the strength and health of your teeth. It includes probiotics, which is beneficial bacteria that can help your gums.

Green Tea

Green tea has many health benefits, but when it comes to your teeth, it is a disease-fighting antioxidant that can protect your mouth from plaque. Tea also typically contains fluoride, which prevents tooth decay and fortifies enamel. Black tea offers similar protection if you find green tea too bitter for your liking.

Sugarless Gum

Chewing gum speeds up saliva production. Saliva helps rinse away harmful acids more effectively. Sugarless gum is actually a great option. Just don’t swallow it!

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants and vitamins which help protect your teeth from harmful bacteria. They can also help keep your gums healthy. When it comes to fruit, try to limit the citrus variety.

Eat for Good Oral Health

If you eat sugary foods with meals, your mouth makes more saliva, which can help to reduce the effects of acid production and rinse pieces of food from the mouth. By making small changes, like limiting snacks between meals, drinking more water, visiting your dentist regularly, brushing twice daily and flossing daily, you can maintain great oral health for years to come. Contact Highbury Park Dental to help keep your oral health in check.