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4 Foods That Are Unexpectedly Bad For Your Teeth

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If asked to name some foods and drinks that are bad for teeth, chocolate, soft drinks, and hard candy would likely be among most people's top answers. However, there are several other foods that are good for our bodies but, surprisingly, not so good for our teeth. If you are paying extra attention to maintaining your dental health, you may want to limit your consumption of these four unexpected tooth decay culprits.

Citrus Fruit

Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits contain a host of vitamins and antioxidants that promote health. The most famous benefit of eating citrus fruit is their high vitamin C content, which helps to prevent immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, and eye disease.

Unfortunately, citrus fruits owe their name to their high citric acid content. Prolonged exposure to citric acid can erode your enamel and decrease the amount of time that it takes for cavities to develop. Additionally, citrus fruits are high in carbohydrates and simple sugars like fructose and glucose. Bacteria on your teeth can feed on these sugars, causing them to produce more of their own enamel eroding acids.

Seeds and Nuts

Almonds, peanuts, and other nuts and seeds contain vitamin E, an antioxidant that bolsters your immune system and is thought to fight cancer. They are also an excellent source of healthy fats that provide long-term energy for your body. Unfortunately, one of the most significant dangers of these foods comes from their size and hardness rather than what they contain. Nuts and seeds can easily cause the weaker parts of your enamel to chip, or get lodged in an existing cavity and cause pain for days. To minimize this risk, you can try only eating softer nuts like cashews.

The only chemical that seeds and nuts contain that is thought to be damaging to teeth is phytic acid. Rather than directly eroding your teeth, phytic acid is thought to limit your dental enamel's ability to absorb essential minerals from your diet. Magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, D, and K all play a role in strengthening your enamel against erosion. Eating a lot of phytic acid can prevent these nutrients from getting to your teeth, allowing decay to take hold and cavities to form.


It's fairly well known that ketchup is not nearly as healthy as the tomatoes it is made from because of all the added salt and sugar. However, ketchup is healthier than some other condiments you could choose, having zero fat and a much lower calorie count than mayonnaise. The threat that ketchup poses to your teeth is its high acid content.

Ketchup is not particularly sticky, so you will not likely have to worry about it hanging around on your teeth for extended periods of time. The problem with ketchup is a poor combination of acidity and color. The acids in ketchup can create small, porous holes in the outer layers of your dental enamel, making them more susceptible to staining. Ketchup itself can stain your teeth in a way similar to red wine.

Peanut Butter

Predictably, peanut butter shares many health benefits with unmashed nuts and legumes, being an excellent source of antioxidants and energy. On the other hand, the relationship that peanut butter has with your teeth can be described as complicated. Eating peanut butter is one of the easiest ways to get protein that your body can use to strengthen your teeth, but peanut butter also has a lot of added sugar that can be bad for your teeth. Additionally, peanut butter has a reputation of being one of the worst foods for "hanging around" on your teeth after you have eaten. Any time you eat peanut butter, you should be sure to rinse and floss thoroughly afterward to wash away any lingering sugars.

Sometimes you can be damaging your teeth without even being aware of it. In order to create the most tooth-friendly diet possible, talk to your dentist about what you are eating and listen carefully to any of his or her recommended diet changes.