We are mere days away from the ringing of doorbells, the donning of costumes and the cries of “Trick or Treat!” Halloween, with its mountains of candied, sugary goodness, will be here before you can say “Boo.” All of the hard, sticky, and chewy candies you’ll find on All Hallows Eve have the power to give the strongest tooth a cavity, but there are a number of other foods in your diet that you may not realize can be causing just as much, if not more damage.

What Causes Tooth Decay?

While everyone always blames sugar for cavities and other forms of tooth decay, it’s actually acid that causes teeth to begin to decay. Sugar actually breaks down into an acid, and that combines with the plaque on your teeth to weaken your enamel. The enamel on your teeth is what protects the soft tissue on the inside, so when that begins to decay, that’s how cavities form.

There are quite a few foods that can actually be worse for your teeth than candy, and we’ll list the top 8 below, but what’s most important to remember is how to deter cavities in the first place:

Brushing your teeth!

To avoid cavities, dentists recommend that you brush your teeth regularly, and especially after you eat sugary or acidic foods. Every time you eat a snack that’s bad for your teeth, your teeth are vulnerable to the acid that’s produced as sugars break down for the next 20 minutes. That’s why it’s so important to keep brushing and flossing regularly!

Now that you know what causes tooth decay, and how to avoid it, here’s a list of 8 cavity-causing culprits that can give your candy confections a run for their money:

#1 SODA

To all of you soda drinkers out there, this is your warning. Whether your beverage is “diet” or not, soda breaks down your teeth’s enamel in two ways: sugars and acid exposure. The best way to reduce the effects of soda on your teeth is to drink water with your pop to help wash the sugars and acid off of your teeth or limit your sodas to your meals, where the food can help neutralize the soda’s acid.

#2 ICE

What can be so bad about frozen water you ask? In this case, it’s not about the makeup of the water, but of the hardness of your average ice cube. Chewing hard substances can do a number on your teeth, putting extra strain on your enamel. Do yourself a favor: stick with bottled water.

#3 CITRUS

We all know fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges can be great sources of vitamins and even better flavors to add to our water. However, like some of the other cavity-culprits on this list, citrus fruits combine natural sugars and high acid content to make a cavity-causing-cocktail that can promote tooth decay. Grapefruit is the worst of the citruses, so be sure to brush Even worse are dried fruits, with their chewy, almost gummy texture that easily adheres to your teeth and gets trapped in between. With so many ways that citrus is introduced into our diets, this food is definitely a top contender on the list of bad foods for your teeth.

#4 COFFEE

In addition to being a leading contributor to tooth discoloration and stains, coffee is an acidic powerhouse. For many, coffee is something that enjoyed throughout the day. Cup after cup, pot after pot. This is not even considering the many sugars we add to our favorite lattes and frappuccinos. No surprise that this office staple made the list.

#5 TEA

Although tea can harbor a number of health benefits, it also carries the risk of a higher acidity. If you find yourself drinking a couple of cups a day, over time this exposure can be responsible for significant tooth erosion. May we suggest less tea time?

#6 PICKLES

You’re probably wondering how this made the list. This might not be a main staple in your diet, but research has shown that those who eat pickles often have an 85% higher chance of tooth wear. This is mostly a result of the acidic vinegar that the pickle has been preserved in.

#7 CRACKERS/CHIPS

Crackers can be a nightmare for your teeth. As you chew, suddenly your tasty, cheese cracker becomes a gooey adhesive that becomes lodged in all of your mouth’s little cracks and crevices. As the cracker is broken down by your saliva, the carbohydrates are converted into sugars that consequently break down your teeth’s enamel.

#8 BREATH MINTS/COUGH DROPS

Not only are both of these foods hard and bad to chew, they’re also full of sugar. As you suck on them to release either the minty flavor or the cough relief, your teeth are being soaked in your sugar-ridden saliva. Not good.

Thankfully, proper dental health—good brushing habits, flossing, regular checkups—can curb cavity-causing damage. When it comes to this year’s Halloween candy, enjoy your spoils. Just try to do so in moderation.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve had your last checkup and you’re a regular user of one of these cavity-culprits, give the Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowki office a call at (616) 842-0822. We always welcome new patients, and you can even get in touch with us online!