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Dried fruit

Dried fruit
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“Dried fruit is really like eating candy,” says Stephen J. Stefanac, DDS, professor of oral medicine and periodontics. “It has that stickiness and high sugar content.” That means that sugar gets stuck between your teeth – the perfect formula for cavities. Skip the dried variety and opt for fresh fruits instead.

These are the 5 fruits you need to eat every day to not gain weight.

Soft drink

Soft drink
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It probably comes as no surprise that soft drinks are not great for your teeth. A 375ml can of fizzy drink has a whopping 39 grams of sugar – that’s almost 10 teaspoons! But that’s not the only problem. “It’s very acidic,” says dentist Tricia Quartey. “And acid can break down the enamel.” The worst is if you sip soft drinks all day long, because it increases your teeth’s exposure to the sugar and acid.

Learn 12 things that happen to your body if you stop drinking fizzy drinks.

Juice

Juice
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Like soft drink, bottled juice can be acidic and often contains added sugars, sometimes as much as 10 teaspoons per serving. That sugar feeds bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay. But at least one dentist likes a surprising alternative: apple juice. “There’s usually no added sugars in apple juice,” says Tyrone Rodriguez, DDS, director of pediatric dentistry. Dr Rodriguez suggests watering down apple juice to decrease the natural sugar further or making other juices yourself at home.

Pasta sauce

Pasta sauce
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Tomatoes are healthy, but they’re also acidic: “Eating tomato sauce with spaghetti doubles the damage to enamel,” says Dr Quartey. The acidic sauce can break down the enamel on teeth, and the carbs in pasta help feed cavity-causing bacteria. Dr Quartey recommends serving pasta with cheese instead.

Bottled water

Bottled water
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Even plain water may contain minerals added for flavour – and these can increase acidity. In fact, these waters can be as acidic as coffee or tea. It’s hard to tell which brands are acidic; if you look for the word distilled on the bottle, you’ll find waters that are less acidic (distilling lowers the pH balance – a scale that indicates acidity – to a more neutral state). Or use a refillable bottle with water from your tap.

Watch out for these 9 signs you’re drinking too much water.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar
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This vinegar has been touted for its detoxifying properties, but you might not realise that its high acidity can erode tooth enamel in a hurry. Two dentists we spoke with have seen an increase in people with damaged teeth from drinking apple cider vinegar. If that’s a part of your regimen, always dilute it with water, drink it in one sitting, and rinse well afterward.

Make sure you never do this when taking apple cider vinegar.

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Coffee and tea

Coffee and tea
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Coffee and tea may get you up and going, but they’re no friends to your teeth. Both are acidic and diuretic, which means they can dry out your mouth. “Saliva is nature’s buffering system to rinse everything,” Dr Rodriguez explains. “When you run low, you’re more prone to cavities and gum disease.” And that frappé? It’s even worse because of all the added sugar. Good news: Swishing with water afterward will help protect your teeth.

This is what happens to your body when you drink tea every day

Gummy vitamins

Gummy vitamins
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Remember: Gummy vitamins or fibre supplements are still essentially a lolly. They contain sugar and are also squishy and sticky, which makes it easy for them to get stuck in your teeth and cause cavities. Protect your teeth by choosing vitamins you swallow, or at least chewables that crumble.

Cough drops

Cough drops
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As with gummy vitamins, you might not classify cough drops as lollies, but that’s what they are to your teeth. Dr Stefanac remembers a patient who had a lot of tooth decay because she was treating lozenges like medicine: “She was sucking on them all day.”

You’ll also want to avoid these common teeth-cleaning mistakes.

Alcohol

Alcohol
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Beer, wine, hard liquor and cocktails can all do a number on your teeth – especially if you like to nurse your drink. Along with the carbs in beer that bacteria feed on, the carbonation makes it acidic, which also erodes tooth enamel. Wine could have more sugar than you think (a glass of sweet white can have up to eight grams), but it’s the sugary cocktails you really have to watch: Besides the sugar, drinks with higher alcohol content can dry out your mouth, making you more prone to cavities and gum disease.

Learn how to spot the early signs of gum disease.

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