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Having a beautiful smile is crucial to our confidence and self-esteem. But little habits may be slowly cracking or discoloring our pearly whites.

Food Network compiled a list of 10 common foods and drinks dentists wish we wouldn’t consume. How many of them do you eat every day?

RELATED: We all want gorgeous smiles, but there’s a lot to consider before bleaching your teeth

Alcohol

According to Washington, D.C., periodontist Dr. Sally Cram, alcohol “reduces your salivary flow, making you more susceptible to periodontal disease.”

For what it’s worth, alcohol consumption has also been linked to mouth cancer.


Do this instead: Drink sparingly, if at all, and always with plenty of water.

Caramel

Sticky treats like caramel and taffy “work like a jackhammer” to bury bacteria in our teeth. And once that bacteria makes its way through our enamel, dental problems begin.

Do this instead: Eat some chocolate! It melts quickly, which gives the saliva in your mouth plenty of time to wash that bacteria off your teeth.

Coffee with milk or cream

Black coffee is delicious and perfectly fine for you, but throwing in a little milk or cream spikes the sugar content. And we all know that sugar and a healthy mouth don’t mix.

Do this instead: If you dislike black coffee, try green tea — it contains polyphenols, which are proven to fight sugar buildup.

Dried fruit

It’s fruit, but that doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. Much like caramel or gummy candy, this food’s sticky quality can contribute to bacteria buildup on teeth.

Do this instead: Brush your teeth as soon as you’re done eating dried fruit, as it takes roughly 24 hours for the bacteria to form.

Granola bars

Both granola and protein bars are often loaded with sugar, which can lead to tooth decay. So can the sticky consistencies of some bars.

“Although we may feel virtuous when we eat granola bars, because they have nutritional value, they represent the same risk to our teeth as candies,” New York City periodontist Dr. Yale Kroll said.

Do this instead: Kroll recommends snacking on “fresh fruit or dairy” instead of granola.

Hard candies and breath mints

The sugar content in these products is extremely high. And biting into one can break a tooth.

Do this again: If you want fresh breath, chew sugar-free gum.

Ice

Chewing on ice cubes can cause teeth to crack. That’s because ice is a crystal and tooth enamel is made of crystalline; rubbing the two together will eventually make one of them break.

Do this instead: Let ice cubes just melt in your mouth.

Lemon water

“Sip all day, risk decay.” That’s a saying dentists have created about water with lemon, according to American Dental Association spokesperson Dr. Kim Harms.

Because lemons are highly acidic, squeezing them in your water could contribute to eroding tooth enamel.

Do this instead: Drink your lemon water with a meal, which helps remove some of that acid.

Popcorn and chips

These crunchy snacks are notorious for getting stuck in our teeth. Popcorn is the worst; Cram said the hulls are difficult to remove, even with brushing and flossing, and can lead to gum infections.

Do this instead: Seek out a different (and healthier) snack, like nuts.

Soft drinks

This one’s obvious — sodas are loaded with sugar and acid, and that dynamic duo will wreak havoc on your teeth. And, according to Dr. Kroll, brushing immediately after drinking one just makes it worse, as “you are abrading the tooth with a brush right after the surface has been softened by acidic liquid.”

Plus, have you seen what Coca-Cola can do around the house? Should you really be putting this in your mouth?

Do this instead: Don’t drink it. Really.

(H/T: Food Network)

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