Things Bad for Teeth

Every day, we expose our teeth and gums to all kinds of potentially damaging or risky activities. With some things, the advice is moderation – too much is bad. With others, the advice is more black and white – it’s bad. Many of us can be unaware that something is actually placing our dental health at risk. By reducing or removing as many of these bad habits, foods and activities from our daily routines, we can give our teeth a much better chance of staying healthy and strong.

Grinding Teeth

Your teeth aren’t designed for constant wear and stress, so regular teeth grinding – also known as bruxism – can wear your teeth down over time and present a number of other problems. Unfortunately, teeth grinding often happens at night while asleep, so you can be completely unaware of the condition until painful symptoms occur. A dentist may advise wearing a mouth guard to bed to take the strain off your teeth.

Read more about Teeth Grinding

The leading cause of cavities and dental problems is food that is allowed to stay in and around our teeth for too long. By snacking constantly between meals, we are ensuring that our teeth are always contending with bits of food that might stay there for hours before brushing or flossing. Also, as snacking causes our mouths to produce less saliva than a full meal, there is less fluid to protect or wash away the trapped food.

If you do have a snack, try to choose something that won’t stick to your teeth and is low in starches and sugars.

Potato Chips

Chips and crisps are notoriously bad for teeth as the chewed potato sticks to teeth and easily becomes trapped in crevices and gaps. The bacteria in your mouth will break down starchy foods into acid, which will then attack your teeth, leading to cavities. Most of us will enjoy potato chips occasionally, so it is a good idea to floss as soon as possible afterwards.

Fruit Juice

We all know fruit juice contains plenty of healthy vitamins and antioxidants. But most commercial fruit juices also come loaded with extra sugar. Sometimes fruit juice can contain as much sugar as a soft drink, cancelling out many of the health benefits.

Ironically, fruit juice is already sweetened with natural sugars. Although even natural sugars will attack your teeth, there no need to add additional sugars to increase the risk.

Always drink fruit juice in moderation. Look for fruit juices that advertise ‘no added sugar’ or dilute the juice with water to reduce the amount of sugar you drink.

Sports Drinks

Far from being a health drink, sports drinks are extremely high in sugar. Just like sugary soft drinks, they promote acid attacks on your teeth, weakening the enamel. Drinking sports drinks too often can lead to tooth decay.

There’s not much healthy in a soft drink. With each glass containing up to eleven teaspoons of sugar, plus damaging phosphoric and citric acids, soft drinks almost seem designed to eat away at your tooth enamel. Although lower in sugar, the artificial sweeteners in diet soft drinks can mean there is even more acid to attack your teeth.

Sweets and Lollies

Sticky, chewy and full of sugar, sweets and lollies can be particularly harmful to your teeth. The sugars react

with the bacteria contained in the sticky plaque coating your teeth. This converts the sugar into acids that eat into the tooth enamel, forming cavities. And because lollies such as gummie bears stick to the teeth, the damaging acids aren’t easily rinsed away.

Cough Drops

Often marketed as a medicine and available in pharmacies, you’d be forgiven for thinking cough drops are okay and even beneficial. But just like regular sweets and lollies, cough drops are merely sugary sweets with an extra ingredient to help with your cough.

The sugar is just as bad as in any other sweet, sticking to your teeth and eating into the enamel. So after the cough sweet has soothed your throat, give your teeth a good brushing.


Although not as bad as some of the other things on this list, coffee can still stain the teeth over the years. This staining is treatable though. Your dentist may be able to advise you on the most appropriate teeth whitening method.

Of course, if you add sugar to your coffee, it will attack your teeth just like any other sugary drink.

Red or White Wine

Wine is really just fruit juice, so there is still a lot of sugar. However, the sugars in wine have been allowed to ferment, which already increases the acidity entering your mouth and washing over your teeth.

The deep pigment in red wine can also stain your teeth just as effectively as it does a white shirt. The pigment contains chromagen and tannins, which causes the colour to stick to teeth

Although white wine won’t stain your teeth in the same way, it is just as acidic. The acids will attack the enamel, making it porous and more prone to staining from other drinks and substances.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is when stomach acid rises back up the oesophagus, causing heartburn. When lying down, it can rise back into the mouth. If you suffer acid reflux, apart from the obvious discomfort, the acid can also damage tooth enamel. This can contribute to poorer oral health, increasing the risk of cavities and other problems.

You can reduce the instances of acid reflux by avoiding or reducing certain foods known to trigger the condition. These include spicy, fatty or fried foods, coffee, tea, alcohol, soft drinks, chocolate, dairy, garlic and onions, tomatoes and citrus fruits.

Not Wearing Mouth Guards When Playing Sport

Disease and poor oral hygiene aren’t the only things that can lead to lost teeth. Sporting injuries account for a large amount of chipping, cracking and accidental loss of teeth. If you play any kind of contact sport, including football, hockey, netball and soccer, wearing a mouth guard is essential. You can buy a self-fitting mouth guard or have one custom made by your dentist for greater comfort and protection.

Some Medications

We will all be prescribed medications from time to time, but there are many common drugs that can produce the side-effect of a dry mouth. Antidepressants, Antihistamines and Blood pressure medications can dry up or reduce the production of saliva in the mouth. As saliva is necessary to keep the mouth fresh, wash away harmful bacteria or food particles and protect the soft tissues, it may be necessary to ask your dentist about an artificial saliva product.

Chewing on Ice

Some people love to crunch down on an ice-cube, particularly on a hot day. And as it is only frozen water, we might think there’s no harm in it. But ice can be surprisingly hard and can chip or crack a tooth. Also, the extreme and sudden cold can trigger a lingering toothache or sharp pains.


If you would like a personalised consultation with a dentist, contact one of our practices in your city!

Dentist Sydney | Dentist Canberra | Dentist Melbourne | Dentist Brisbane | Dentist Perth | Dentist Gold Coast |
Dentist Adelaide | Dentist Hobart | Dentist Auckland

Find a DCN Dentist


Learn About a Service