I get it, I get it; ’tis the season to indulge, and I’m not at all interested in discouraging you from enjoying the sweet treats of the festive month.
But if you’re worried about eating too much sugar, it turns out there’s an unexpected way to tell if you’ve gone a little too hard on those delicious butter biscuits ― and it starts in your mouth.
We all know that too much of the sweet stuff can damage your teeth, eventually leading to cavities and other conditions.
But before the dental damage really starts, a mini warning sign can come up in the form of fuzzy-feeling teeth.
It’s got to do with a thin biofilm that surrounds our teeth at all times.
When this is healthy, it’s thin and slippery, allowing fluoride and phosphate ions from our saliva to enter and leave our teeth. This is vital for an enamel-maintaining process called remineralisation.
As dentist Dr. Mark Burhenne shared with NPR, this process is so important that it can “actually fix and patch small cavities.”
But when we eat, this gets thicker and more fuzzy. And when we eat acidic or sugary food, this effect intensifies ― “Dietary sugars can change the structure and composition of biofilms formed on teeth surfaces and the residing microbial communities become highly fit to metabolise carbohydrates and produce acids leading to dental caries,” The International Journal of Oral and Dental Health says.
That makes it harder for your teeth to remineralise, and it traps bacteria in the resulting plaque, too.
All foods can create plaque ― but over time, sugar is really, really good at making it. And plaque is one of the major causes of that fuzzy sensation.
Is that the only cause of fuzzy teeth?
No ― another common cause of fuzzy teeth is actually vitamin-rich leafy greens and healthy veggies.
Foods high in oxalic acid, like as spinach, beets, tea, rhubarb, and kale, can also create the sensation and may do so even quicker than sugar.
There’s no need to stop eating these ― just combine them with vitamin C to reduce the acid’s effect on your teeth.
Then, there’s the fact that not brushing your teeth will have a similar effect ― all foods thicken the biofilm on your teeth, so if you don’t brush your teeth to break the buildup apart, it may feel furry or chalky.
Certain medications, a dry mouth, and other causes can create the issue.
The main thing, is, in most cases, to brush and floss your teeth regularly; though if you’ve just eaten a lot of sugar, Burhenne recommends waiting a little while before going in with the brush.
“For anyone who is eating junk or candy or having a soda or even coffee or a glass of wine, I would hesitate brushing [right away],” he told NPR, because the enamel is already worn a little thin and weak by the acid in your food and may sustain damage if brushed too quickly.
Here’s hoping I’ll be able to stop running my tongue over my teeth within the next 12 hours...