Which foods and drinks containing sugar cause tooth decay?

Many foods and drinks contain sugars that cause tooth decay.

Sugary food and drink

Foods that contain sugar include:

  • sweets and chocolate
  • cakes and biscuits 
  • pastries and fruit pies
  • puddings
  • sugary breakfast cereals
  • jam
  • honey
  • ice cream
  • fruit in syrup
  • dried fruit
  • sweet sauces and syrups
  • ketchup-type sauces

Drinks that contain sugar include:

  • fresh fruit juice – such as orange and apple juices
  • smoothies
  • some soft drinks – such as squashes, cordials and fizzy drinks
  • energy and "sports" drinks
  • some milk-based drinks – such as milkshake mixes
  • yoghurt-based drinks
  • alcoholic drinks – such as beers and wines

It’s important to remember that honey, fresh fruit juice and dried fruit all contain sugars that can cause tooth decay. However, certain sugars occur naturally in foods such as fresh fruit and milk, but we don't need to cut down on these types of sugars.

Preventing tooth decay

To prevent tooth decay you should reduce:

  • the amount of sugar in your diet
  • how often each day you have food or drink containing sugar

Limit sugary foods/drinks to mealtimes, and make sure you don’t have food or drinks containing added sugar more than three times a day.

Eating a healthy balanced diet is also important. As well as preventing tooth decay, this will help you to stay healthy.

For more information read How can I look after my child’s teeth?

Read the answers to more questions about dental health.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 31/07/2014

Next review due: 30/07/2016