Have you ever eaten a salad with healthy, fresh spinach leaves in it and found yourself with an unpleasant, chalky feeling on your teeth? You’re not the only one that feels that way. In fact, this feeling is so popular that it has its own name: spinach teeth.
Your dentist in East Longmeadow wants to explore this phenomenon so that patients better understand what’s happening in your mouth when you have spinach teeth.
The More You Know About Spinach
Spinach is a unique food, raved upon for all of it’s vitamins and nutrients—especially in the health and wellness world. This green leafy vegetable is packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and is an excellent source of iron. But there’s another thing it’s packed with — oxalic acid.
This naturally occurring chemical is present in plenty of plants, including beets, rhubarb, and even tasty strawberries. And while the other nutrients in spinach are considered beneficial, oxalic acid is an “antinutrient.” An anitnutrient bond with other nutrients, preventing the body from absorbing them. In this case, oxalic acid bonds with calcium. Can you imagine what effect that could leave in your mouth?
Your saliva contains calcium, so when you eat spinach, the oxalic acid in the leaves bonds with the calcium in your saliva. This creates a chemical reaction and forms calcium oxalate crystals. Those tiny crystals are not water soluble, so they just awkwardly float around in your mouth and leave behind that unsettling, gritty feeling.
Is Eating Spinach Dangerous for My Teeth?
Eating spinach isn’t overly dangerous for your smile. You have plenty of other sources of calcium, so you don’t have to worry about a deficiency if you enjoy eating spinach either for the taste of its other health benefits. Even though those crystals might make your teeth feel weird, they won’t harm your enamel and are perfectly safe for your teeth.
Actually, it could be helpful. Oxalate (part of the oxalic acid molecule) is commonly used to treat sensitive teeth. The belief is that calcium oxalate crystals form in the tiny tubules of the teeth that can contribute to sensitivity.
If the feeling of spinach teeth is unpleasant to you, you can brush your teeth after eating spinach, boil or steam your spinach, or even top your spinach with lemon juice since lemon already has an acidic nature.
“Spinach teeth” might be common enough to earn its own name, but there are plenty of foods that can leave your teeth feeling worse than that after eating. While brushing twice a day is enough to keep your teeth clean and prevent excessive tooth decay, there is certainly no harm in brushing after you eat certain substances that make your mouth feel funny.
The best thing you can do for your mouth is to practice good dental hygiene and visit your dentist.
About Your Dentists
We know it can be hard to find someone to really help you debunk dental questions, fads, and myths. If you need a dental team to rely on, feel free to call our East Longmeadow office at any time for help. We would be happy to address your concerns or give you helpful advice.