Dentists Rank the Best and Worst Food for Strong Teeth

mage of a smiling family preparing a meal with a counter full of healthy vegetables, fruits, and proteins.Strong, healthy teeth start at your dinner table. The foods you and your family eat every day play a significant role in proper dental care. The best foods for strong teeth and gums strengthen tooth enamel, prevent tooth decay, clean your teeth and can even whiten and brighten your teeth. The worst food choices can cause tooth decay, weaken gums, and stain or even chip your teeth.

We’ve put together a simple guideline of healthy foods for strong teeth, and unhealthy foods for teeth. We also have some tips on swapping a bad food for a better alternative to maximize the health of your family’s teeth and gums.

Best Food for Strong Teeth

  • Dairy products: milk, cheese, and yogurt
    • High in calcium and protein to strengthen tooth enamel and fight cavities
  • Lean meats: chicken and turkey
    • High in calcium and protein to strengthen tooth enamel
  • Leafy vegetables: spinach and dark green lettuce
    • Contain folate to reduce tooth decay and gum inflammation
  • Crunchy vegetables: carrots, celery, and cucumbers
    • Get rid of plaque to prevent tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease
  • Nuts: almonds, peanuts, and walnuts
    • High in fiber and calcium to strengthen enamel; low in carbs to help fight tooth decay
  • Fruits: strawberries and apples
    • Contain malic acid that cleans teeth, removes stains and whitens teeth
  • Fish rich in omega-3: salmon and tuna
    • Support gum health to prevent tooth decay
  • Water: enhanced with fluoride
    • Rinses away leftover food and bacteria from teeth to prevent tooth decay

Worst Foods that Weaken and Damage Teeth

 Image of a bag full of fresh brightly-colored fruits and vegetables.

  • Hard candy: lollipops and lozenges
    • Excess sugar wears down enamel, and hardness can chip teeth; can also cause gum inflammation
  • Excess citrus: lemons and oranges
    • Too much acid can wear down tooth enamel
  • Sticky foods: raisins, cranberries and other dried fruit, and caramel
    • Excess sugar wears down enamel and sticks to teeth, causing tooth decay and cavities
  • Crunchy snack foods: chips, pretzels, and crackers:
    • Full of carbohydrates that get trapped in teeth, causing tooth decay and cavities
  • Sugary drinks: soda, sports drinks, and coffee with sugar
    • Excess sugar wears down enamel, causing tooth decay and cavities
  • Ice cubes:
    • Cause damage to enamel; can cause a tooth to chip

Replace Bad Foods with Good Alternatives

Now that you know which foods are for strong teeth, let’s take a look at some of the bad foods that appear in many of our meals and snacks. Jess, our in-office nutritionist, recommends these “tooth-friendly” easy swaps from bad to good:

Bad Foods Good Alternatives
  • Carbonated beverages and seltzer waters
  • Water
  • Chips and crackers (such as Goldfish)
  • Cheese, fruits, and veggies
  • Chewy, sticky candy
  • Chocolate bar

What Happens to Your Teeth if You Eat Too Many Unhealthy Foods?

A diet high in candy, sticky foods, crunchy foods, and sugary drinks can cause cavities, tooth loss, and gum disease. A diet high in these bad foods can also affect an all-American smile with discoloration, chips, or all-out tooth loss. It’s not too late to make some small dietary changes that will help strengthen, protect, and naturally brighten your teeth. We know it’s hard to break or slow down sweet tooth habits, but if you do, you’ll take a major step in preventing tooth decay and cavities. The American Dental Association has come up with a list of tips to make this easier. Include as many of the “best foods” in your daily meal planning. Create a plan to slowly minimize the unhealthy foods that do not promote strong teeth.

Our family practice is all about your family’s dental health. We’ve put together a short e-book about preventing tooth decay and making teeth stronger. It’s free! It’s simple. Just sign up and download here.


    Newtown Dentistry

  • DATE

    September 2, 2022


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