By now, we all know the basic recipe for healthy pearly whites, including regular brushing and flossing, and a diet rich in teeth-healthy foods. Wh

at we might not realize is how some food choices can contribute to the wear and tear of teeth.

So what makes a food bad for your smile? Dr. Stephen, D.D.S.,  dentist in Designer Smiles Dentistry, explains  that bacteria living in the mouth burn sugars in order to live. The byproduct of this burning is acid — which dissolves tooth enamel and causes cavities.

In general, foods that are both sticky and sugary are bad for the teeth. That’s because when foods are sticky, they stay on the teeth longer, which “gives a greater chance for bacteria to burn the sugars and do all the evil things that they do,”  Dr.Stephen says.

Acidic foods can also be bad for the teeth, as they could potentially damage the tooth enamel, she says. That means foods and drinks that are both acidic and sugary (like soda), add up to double trouble for teeth — “they have a multiplying effect,” she says.

Saliva is great at helping to naturally wash the mouth of little food particles and can keep food from sticking to teeth, so anything that stalls saliva production — including some medications that facilitate dry mouth — isn’t ideal for tooth health either, Dr. Stephen adds.

It’s important to note that some of the foods listed below aren’t necessarily bad for health — such as dried fruits — but the experts encourage teeth brushing or mouth rinsing after consumption to help prevent decay.