Why do your teeth feel weird after eating spinach?

Spinach has an abundance of great qualities – it’s packed with iron, it can be pureed and added to many dishes and it’s a great crunchy base for salads. Barring all the good, this green leafy plant does have a side that’s putting off. The moment it enters your mouth and you start chewing, it leaves your teeth feeling weird. Instead of not eating spinach anymore, make yourself comfortable by understanding the cause of this chalky/fuzzy side effect. It’s definitely food for thought!

This phenomenon or this film that covers your teeth is called ‘spinach tooth’.

This feeling not only comes from spinach but other foods and beverages like bananas (oxalic acids), strawberries, teas (tannic acids) etc. are all other examples. 

Where Does "Spinach Teeth" Come From?

Apart from being a great source of calcium and iron, this leafy green is loaded with oxalic acid. This insoluble form of oxalic acid gets stuck onto your teeth when you chew on spinach because the calcium in your saliva reacts with oxalic acid. When these crystals get stuck to your teeth, it makes them feel chalky or gritty. 

Although high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and iron, the body's absorption of calcium and iron is inhibited by oxalic acid.  

Should you be concerned?

There is good news! Spinach does not damage your teeth. Actually, some dental treatments use calcium oxalate crystals which claim to get rid of sensitivity by affecting the layer below the enamel, dentin.   

If you are concerned that the acids present in spinach will erode your enamel then fear not. Cooked spinach especially has pH levels which are almost close to neutral that it will barely have any effect. Say, even if it did, the iron and calcium will prevent the acid from reacting with your teeth.      

For those who have kidney stones, be wary. Consuming foods that are high in oxalic acid can lead to the formation of stones. So, foods such as chocolate, nuts, teas, strawberries and spinach should be avoided.

The solution

There are many theories that are floating around on how to eliminate that fuzzy feeling after eating spinach. But there is no unanimity on what works. Few state that drinking milk and introducing more calcium leads to the formation of more crystals. Some say that blanched or cooked spinach cuts down the acid levels while others say that it’s better raw. A selected few even say adding lemon juice is best solution!  

You’ve just got to see what works the best for you!   

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Last updated on 30 July, 2018.

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