Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

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?

share|improve this question

migrated from Apr 9 '14 at 10:28

This question came from our site for professional and amateur chefs.

I'm not sure where this question belongs, but as I'm interested in whatever ingredient causes this effect, I posted here. Not sure about tags, too. – user1306322 Apr 8 '14 at 18:49
I would suggest Biology. – SAJ14SAJ Apr 8 '14 at 20:57
Or chemistry - I'm not sure whether I'm unterstanding questioner right: Coke makes teeth soft - due it's phosphoric acid. After consuming Coke teeth may feel ... rough? sticky? (Note: Never ever brush your teeth right after drinking soft drinks/acidic fruit juice! You will brush your teeth away.) – ChiChiChan Apr 9 '14 at 0:49
sugar? :-) [saying that because I don't feel this way with coke zero, but I do with regular coke] – Leo Apr 9 '14 at 2:24
we don't have zero in our region, so I can't compare – user1306322 Apr 9 '14 at 9:57

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.

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer

protected by Chris Jan 1 '15 at 12:57

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.