On a hot summer day, it’s great to fill a tall glass with ice and pour in some soda, lemonade, or tea to help cool down. You’re right if you assume that sugary drinks are bad for your teeth (they are!), but they’re bad in an over-the-long-term kind of way. In fact, lemonade and soda are also quite acidic, which isn’t good for your tooth enamel, either. However, it’s the ice that can actually chip your teeth if you chew it. Other hard foods can damage your teeth, too, so be careful when you’re eating things like baguettes, hard pretzels, and biscotti.
Lots of people enjoy buttered popcorn while sitting in a cool, air-conditioned movie theater, but unpopped kernels can definitely ruin the fun. They’re hard enough to chip a tooth if you crunch down on one of them by accident or on purpose. However, popcorn actually poses a double threat. The thin shell that covers the kernel can actually get stuck between your teeth or between your tooth and gum, giving bacteria a source of food and promoting tooth decay.
What do olives, cherries, dates, and peaches all have in common? They all have pits, of course, and those pits can damage teeth. If you accidentally bite into a pit, you can definitely crack or loosen a crown—or damage regular tooth enamel.
Pretty much every type of candy can damage your teeth. Hard candies can chip teeth if you bite on them or chew them up; if you suck on them and let them dissolve slowly, you’re basically giving your teeth (and the bacteria in your mouth) a sugar bath. Chewy candies, like caramels or taffy, can stick to your teeth, increasing the risk of cavities, or stick to fillings and crowns, loosening them.
But sour candies are probably the most damaging of all because they combine three dangers to your teeth all in one. They’re loaded with sugar and they stick to your teeth, but the sour flavor actually comes from acids, which eat away at tooth enamel.
You’re probably noticing a theme by now. Hard foods can damage your teeth. We’re not trying to you away from enjoying the sorts of treats you love. However, if you’re eating something that could chip your teeth, pay attention while you’re eating it. If you’re eating something that could damage your teeth in another way, remember to drink some water to rinse out sugars and acids. And always brush your teeth and floss after you’ve eaten any of the foods on this list.