Keeping your teeth healthy is like maintaining a good weight: it’s a consistent process which requires self-discipline, particularly when it comes to your diet.

While it is important to regularly visit your dentist and brush your teeth properly and daily, avoiding the wrong kind of foods can go a long way towards protecting your smile. Here are the best and worst types of crunchy foods for your teeth.

Hard sweets are one of the worst things for you. They usually stay in your mouth for a long time if you suck on them, which exposes your mouth to the harshness of sugars for prolonged periods of time. This can lead to sugar sticking to your teeth, damaging the enamel and causing decay. Worse still, chewing on them can actually break or crack your teeth.

Snacks can also be a real danger to your teeth. Crunchy snack foods like crisps, crackers and pretzels can be really damaging as the particles from these foods can easily get stuck between your teeth.

As the carbohydrates they contain convert into sugar, they can erode your teeth’s protective enamel. Since snacks like crisps tend to be consumed over a relatively long time period, this means the acid production around your teeth is continuous, too.

Popcorn is no exception to this. Like crisps, popcorn can leave bacteria between your teeth. The corn which fails to pop and generally remains at the bottom of the bag is even worse, as it can break your teeth.

Whilst it barely qualifies as food and is sugar-free, ice can also do a lot of harm to your teeth, too. If like many people you’ve developed a bad habit of chewing on ice cubes, know that this can potentially be detrimental. Long exposition to the coldness of ice can weaken your teeth, even cracking them.

That’s not to say you should avoid all crunchy foods. As well as being very good for your health, crunchy fruits are great for your teeth. Raw vegetables like carrots and cucumber are great at stimulating saliva flow, which acts as a natural defence to counter cavities and gum disease. In addition, raw vegetables contain beta-carotene which your body needs to produce vitamin A – an essential nutrient to build strong teeth.