Which foods cause tooth decay?

Sugary food and drinks are one of the main causes of tooth decay.

Acid is produced when the bacteria in your mouth break down the sugar. The acid dissolves the tooth surface, which is the first stage of tooth decay.

Sugar in food and drinks

Some sugars occur naturally in food and drink, such as fruit, honey and milk. The naturally occurring sugar in dried fruit, such as raisins, dates and apricots can also contribute to tooth decay.

Other foods have sugar added to them by the manufacturer, which is sometimes called processed food. These may include:

  • cakes and biscuits
  • sweets and chocolate
  • flavoured milks and yoghurts
  • sugary breakfast cereals and cereal bars
  • jams
  • fruit canned in syrup
  • sauces and syrups, such as some pasta sauces, marinades and ketchup

Read about the top sources of added sugar in our diets.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 09/08/2016

Next review due: 09/08/2019