What makes teeth feel sticky after drinking Coca-Cola?

What makes teeth feel sticky after drinking Coca-Cola?

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I asked some of my friends and we all agree that teeth feel funny after drinking Coca-Cola. Other similar soft drinks also cause this effect, but this one most noticeably. It's like teeth become sticky and moving them against each other (by moving jaw) creates rubbery feeling.

What ingredient in this soft drink makes teeth like that?

Glucose and other ingested sugars have a natural affinity to bind to surface proteins on teeth (as well as many other proteins in tissues). This process is called glycosylation, and is expedited both by acidic environments (such as provided by the acidic soft drinks as indicated by The Last Word) or metabolism of adherent bacteria on the tooth surface (see one example). A discussion of oral cavity lubrication and how this influences tooth surfance glycosylation and biofilm formation has also been reported. The fuzzy feeling is a result of plaque formation. Plaques form as a byproduct of metabolism of bacteria on the tooth surfaces, that ingest and break down dietary sugars, and also secrete acids as a byproduct of this metabolism. The result, if left long enough, is plaque formation and eventually tooth decay. You can also notice this fuzzy feeling after a day or so of not brushing your teeth, as the bacteria have had a long time to metabolize the sugars ingested over that period to produce a plaque.

The sticky feeling comes from the sugars present in soft drinks. The sugar sticking to the surface of the teeth is then broken down into acids by bacteria and this affects the teeth. A list of the amount of sugars in different soft drinks can be found here. Also reading the dental decay section of Wikipedia gives the info that many carbohydrates are present including glucose, fructose and sucrose. On a dentistry forum (reference), it says that even artificial sugars can stick to teeth and get metabolized except xylitol.

Why Soda Is Bad for Your Teeth

You've heard soda is bad for your teeth, but it is really true? If it is, why is it bad?

Answer: Yes, soda damages your teeth. Drinking a carbonated beverage is actually one of the worst things you can do for your dental health. The reason is because the carbonation that makes soda bubbly also makes it extremely acidic. Many sodas also contain citric acid, which gives the drink a tangy flavor, but destroys teeth. It's a one-two punch with sweetened sodas, because the low pH attacks tooth enamel, while the sugar feeds bacteria that cause decay. You're not off the hook drinking diet soda, because it's mainly the acid in soda that harms teeth.

Start by talking to your child about good dental hygiene practices and how important it is to brush their teeth every day, making sure to explain how certain foods, drinks, and activities can stain and damage teeth. You might also want to discuss how drinking a lot of acidic beverages can erode the outside of teeth.

Ask your child to come up with a few types of drinks that might hurt their teeth. They might have answers like soda, coffee, or juice because of sugar and acid. You might also want to ask your child to think of drinks that might be better for their teeth. Most likely, they'll come up with something like milk and water. You can also ask your child if they think brushing after drinking some of the drinks that could hurt their teeth could reduce the risk of damage.

Is Coca-Cola bad for you?

People consider sugary drinks to be a significant contributor to many health conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay. Research has shown that drinking a can of Coca-Cola can have damaging effects on the body within an hour.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of the United States population will drink at least one sugary beverage on any given day. Young adults are the most regular consumers of sugary drinks.

There are 37 grams (g) of added sugar, which equates to almost 10 teaspoons (tsp), in a single can of cola.

For optimal health, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend consuming no more than 6 tsp of added sugar daily. By drinking just one serving of cola a day, a person will easily exceed this amount.

A 2015 study attributed 184,000 global deaths each year to the consumption of sugary drinks.

In this article, we look at the effects of cola on the body.

Share on Pinterest The sugar in Coca-Cola can contribute to many health conditions.

An infographic by the British pharmacist Niraj Naik shows the damage that a 330 milliliter (ml) can of Coca-Cola can inflict on the body within 1 hour of consumption. Naik based the infographic on research by health writer Wade Meredith.

According to Naik, the intense sweetness of Coca-Cola resulting from its high sugar content should make a person vomit as soon as it enters the body. However, the phosphoric acid in the beverage dulls the sweetness, enabling people to keep the drink down.

Blood sugar levels increase dramatically within 20 minutes of drinking the cola, explains Naik, causing a burst of insulin. The liver then turns the high amounts of sugar into fat.

Effects similar to heroin

Within 40 minutes, the body has absorbed all of the caffeine from the cola. This caffeine causes the pupils to dilate and the blood pressure to increase. By this point, the Coca-Cola has blocked the adenosine receptors in the brain, preventing drowsiness.

Just 5 minutes later, the production of dopamine has increased. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the pleasure and reward centers of the brain. According to the infographic, the way that Coca-Cola stimulates these centers is comparable to the effects of heroin. It triggers a person’s urge to drink another can.

An hour after drinking the beverage, a sugar crash will begin, causing irritability and drowsiness. The body will have cleared the water from the cola, along with vital nutrients, in the urine.

According to Naik, the infographic applies not only to Coca-Cola but to all caffeinated fizzy drinks.

“Coke is not just high in high fructose corn syrup, but it is also packed with refined salts and caffeine,” writes Naik on his blog, The Renegade Pharmacist.

In a press statement, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola says that the beverage is “perfectly safe to drink and can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle.”

Did the Soda Pop Board recommend drinking cola earlier?

It appears to be an advertisement that one might find in a magazine or newspaper, and it has some pretty ridiculous claims:

For a better start in life start cola earlier!

How soon is too soon? Not soon enough. Laboratory tests over the last few years have proven that babies who start drinking soda during that early formative period have a much higher chance of gaining acceptance and "fitting in" during those awkward pre-teen and teen years. So, do yourself a favor. Do your child a favor. Start them on a strict regimen of sodas and other sugary carbonated beverages right now, for a lifetime of guaranteed happiness. The Soda Pop Board of America - 1515 W. Hart Ave. - Chicago, ILL.

I'm not terribly worried about the spurious claims it makes, I'm just wondering if this image was real (or based on real marketing material) or just a spoof?

The Worst Foods for Your Teeth

8) Sticky/Chewy Candy

The chances of seeing a dentist munch on toffees or other chewy candy are pretty much equal to the chances of seeing a dinosaur. The reason, of course, is dentists know how bad sticky candy is for their teeth. Their high sugar content combined with their sticky nature makes them a nightmare for your teeth and oral bacteria’s favorite snack.

The only thing worse than having candy debris stuck at your teeth for a long time is chipping off a piece of your tooth. If you chew hard candies there is always a risk of damaging your enamel and in extreme cases, chipping a piece of your tooth off. So be extremely careful when chewing hard substances in general.

If you don’t chew hard candies but let them melt in your mouth it might be even worse. The problem is hard candies dissolve slowly and saturate your mouth with sugar for a long time, giving bad bacteria plenty of time to produce harmful acid. What’s even worse, many varieties of hard candy are flavored with citric acid which adds, even more, acid to your mouth.

Sour candy is so bad for your teeth it also deserves its own mention. Sour candy contains more and different kinds of acids than other varieties. What makes matters worse is you can’t solve the problem by brushing immediately after you eat them, because brushing too soon after consuming highly acidic foods or drinks could damage your enamel even further.

11) Dried fruits

Many people consider this to be a healthy snack choice and there is definitely some merit to that. However, when it comes to dental health, dried fruits spell trouble. The main problem is most dried fruits are very sticky and extremely high in sugar content. They are brimming with a big dose of natural sugars and non-soluble cellulose fiber which makes them as bad for your teeth as chewy candy. Your best alternative is to munch on fresh fruits instead.

Yes, they are super-rich in Vitamin C and are loaded with a whole array of health benefits, but they are also loaded with acid which can erode and decay your tooth enamel. Lemon and grapefruit are most acidic, while orange is the least acidic of the group.

So if you enjoy squeezing lemons in your water and sipping on it throughout the day you might need to reconsider as a prolonged acid exposure is really bad for your teeth. It’s better to drink or eat your lemons in one sitting and then drink plenty of water to wash out the acid.

13) Canned fruit

Most fruits have a good amount of natural sugars in them, but canned varieties are infused with lots of added sugar as well which turns them into something you teeth wished you’d avoid. Canned citrus fruit is the worst, as they combine the very high sugar content with naturally contained acids.

While most crackers don’t contain sugars or acids and don’t stain your teeth they are still pretty dangerous to your teeth. The reason is the refined carbohydrates that quickly break down into sugar! Most crackers also get gooey when you chew them, so they stick between your teeth letting bacteria flourish.

15) Potato chips

Starchy foods like to get stuck between your teeth. As tasty as potato chips are, unfortunately, the starch in it and its mushy texture means it will stay trapped between your teeth for a long time. If possible, rinse with water and floss to remove the trapped debris.

It’s refined carbohydrates to blame again. When you chew on bread the enzymes in your saliva break down the starch into sugar. Now transformed into a gummy substance, the breadsticks between your teeth. To minimize the danger opt-in for whole wheat options instead.

We all love snacking on popcorn at the cinema but beware they pose some danger to your teeth as well. First, they can get trapped between your teeth, promoting bacteria growth. Unpopped ones are nasty as well as they are too hard and you can damage your enamel or chip off a tooth.

18) Peanut butter & jelly

Normally, we wouldn’t dare say a bad word against most people’s favorite breakfast, but the high sugar content and the stickiness of the ingredients make it a terrible choice for your teeth and a great one for the bacteria in your mouth.

It’s made out of pure water, so how bad can it be? Well, not at all, unless you decide to chew it. It’s a bad habit many people have, but for the sake of your teeth, please just let ice cool off your drinks and don’t chew on it.

We use vinegar mostly in salad dressings, sauces, pickles and some potato chips and it’s important to know it can trigger tooth decay. Studies have shown an increased risk of enamel erosion for people who frequently consume vinegar-containing foods. It’s a crucial ingredient for a tasty salad, but you need to remember to rinse your mouth with water afterward to minimize the potential danger.

The problem once again is acid. Vinegar is most often the culprit here. It’s what gives pickles their taste and also what makes them dangerous for your enamel. We agree pickles are super tasty on your sandwich, just keep in mind they are a real teeth’s nightmare and make sure to drink some water afterward to minimize the acid.

A surprise entry for sure, the problem your teeth have with tomatoes is they are acidic. Of course, if you eat them as a part of a meal, the danger is minimized. So just keep in mind that acidic foods, in general, are not very welcome by your teeth and drink water afterward to clean your mouth.

23) Breath mints / Cough Drops

Fresh breath is important, but breath mints are probably not the best option. Since they stay in your mouth for a very long time, you are in effect soaking your teeth in sugar. If possible try to find sugar-free options to minimize the danger.

They might soothe your cough, but most cough drops are loaded with sugar as well. In addition, they stay in your mouth for a long time so the potential for dental damage can be serious. Again, sugar-free options are better.

Tannic acid is found in drinks like red wine, coffee, and black tea. These drinks will stain your teeth and make your teeth sticky. Tannins also tend to dry out your mouth, which means your saliva levels will be lowered.

25) Highly pigmented foods

Highly pigmented foods like berries, beets, and curry can easily stain your teeth. Yes, some of them are super-healthy, so please keep eating them, but you need to remember to rinse your mouth to reduce the stains.

Food is Meant to Make You Healthy and Happy

Other than providing you with energy, food is meant to make you healthy and happy, so don’t stress too much on what you eat as long as you follow a few basic principles which will help your teeth and gums stay healthy.

It’s better to avoid substances that have an extremely negative effect on your overall health (like soda), but even if you can’t eat 100% clean, the following principles will help your teeth and gums stay healthier:

How Can Plaque Formation Be Prevented?

  • To prevent plaque buildup, brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft, rounded-tip bristled toothbrush. Pay particular attention to the space where the gums and teeth meet. Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
  • Floss between teeth at least once a day to remove food particles and bacteria.
  • Use an antibacterial mouth rinse to reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease.
  • See your dentist or oral hygienist every 6 months for a checkup and teeth cleaning.
  • Ask your dentist if a dental sealant is appropriate for you. Dental sealants are a thin, plastic coating that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth to protect them from cavities and decay.
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as plain yogurt, cheese, fruit, or raw vegetables. Vegetables, such as celery, help remove food and help saliva neutralize plaque-causing acids.


American Dental Association: "Plaque," "Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums," "Tooth Decay."

David Cochran, PhD, past president, American Academy of Periodontology professor and chair, Department of Periodontics, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio.

Sally Cram, DDS, periodontist, Washington, D.C. consumer advisor, American Dental Association.

American Academy of Periodontology: "Gum Disease and Diabetes," "Inflammation: Connecting the Mouth and Body?" "Journal of Periodontology and the American Journal of Cardiology develop joint clinical recommendations," "Frequently Asked Questions," "Healthy Gums and a Healthy Heart: The Perio-Cardio Connection."

Offenbacher, S. Journal of Periodontology, October 1996 vol 67: pp 1103-1113.

Seymour R. British Dental Journal, May 23, 2009 vol 206: pp 551-552.

Radnai, M. Journal of Dental Research, March 2009 vol 88: pp 280-284.

Noble, J. Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgery Psychiatry, online May 5, 2009.

Kaisare, S. British Dental Journal, Aug. 11, 2007 vol 203: pp 144-145.

Srinivas, S. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, May 2009 vol 200: p 497 and e1-8.

Smolik, I. Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, May 2009 vol 30: pp 188-90, 192, 194, 198, 210.

Kamer, A. Alzheimer's & Dementia, July 2008 vol 4: pp 242-50.

Wang, T. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, May 2009, vol 36: pp 372-379.

Ortiz, P. Journal of Periodontology, 2009, vol 80: pp 535-540.

Mercado, FB. Journal of Periodontology, June 2001 vol 72: pp 779-787.


See your dental professional twice a year for dental cleanings, which play an important role in maintaining your oral health by helping to identify dental erosion in its early stages. If there is a need, they can counsel you on making healthy dietary choices to stop dental erosion if your eating habits are contributing. Outside the dental chair, keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water so saliva can cleanse your mouth of these acids regularly. Use a fluoride toothpaste, such as Colgate® Enamel Health™ Whitening, which can help to repair tooth enamel and reduce your risk of decay. Keep in mind that according to the American Dental Association (ADA) fluoride furthers the remineralization of the tooth enamel. Swishing with a fluoride mouthwash will also help to lessen the severity of dental erosion. Be sure to floss once a day in your daily oral health routine, too.

Don't overlook the little things behind your daily routine, either. Chewing sugar-free gum can increase saliva flow, allowing it to neutralize acids and help teeth to stay strong. After all, a healthy mouth will only help you enjoy your favorite cuisine!

How Does Tartar Affect Teeth and Gums?

Tartar can make it harder to brush and floss like you should. This can lead to cavities and tooth decay.

Any tartar that forms above your gum line could be bad for you. That's because the bacteria in it can irritate and damage your gums. Over time, this might lead to progressive gum disease.

The mildest form of gum disease is called gingivitis. It can usually be stopped and reversed if you brush, floss, use an antiseptic mouthwash, and get regular cleanings from your dentist.

If not, it can get worse, to the point where pockets form between the gums and teeth and get infected by bacteria. That's called periodontitis. Your immune system sends chemicals to fight back and they mix with bacteria and the stuff it puts out. The resulting stew can damage the bones and tissues that hold your teeth in place. Also, some studies link the bacteria in gum disease to heart disease and other health problems.

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