Why Do Your Teeth Feel Furry When You Haven't Brushed Them?

woman eating spinach
Sure, failing to brush can give you some funny feeling teeth, but so can eating spinach. Really. Stockbyte/Thinkstock

If you've ever skipped brushing your teeth before bed, you may have noticed that they have a fuzzy texture the next day. This sensation is caused by plaque, which has a sticky feeling that can feel furry to the tongue.

Anyone who's ever sat through a toothpaste commercial has heard of plaque. We all know it's something to be avoided — but what is it, really? Basically, it's a naturally occurring bacterial film that adheres to the surfaces of teeth.


Without proper dental hygiene, plaque increases and starts to damage the teeth. It can lead to tooth decay, damaged tooth enamel, and gum and bone degradation (periodontitis). This bacteria may even lead to cardiovascular disease if it enters the bloodstream. So, you can think of furry tooth film as a warning sign. If your teeth feel anything but smooth when you run your tongue across them, you need to be brushing better and more frequently. Otherwise, you're putting your oral health and general health at risk.

Occasionally, however, you may have a film on your teeth for a reason other than lack of brushing. Some foods are notorious for supplying an icky dental texture. One infamous offender is spinach. It's believed that the residue spinach leaves on the teeth is from oxalic acid, which also can be found in beets, kale and rhubarb.

While not harmful, oxalic acid can reduce iron absorption. You can counteract this effect by consuming foods, supplements or beverages with vitamin C while eating spinach. And, of course, after eating your spinach, all you have to do is give your teeth a thorough brushing to remove the sticky, gritty layer left behind.


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  • Fuhr, Lizzie. "Why Does Spinach Make My Teeth Feel Funky?" FitSugar, Oct. 15, 2013. (Aug. 30, 2014) http://www.fitsugar.com/What-Causes-Spinach-Teeth-551249
  • Harvard Medical School. "Heart disease and oral health: role of oral bacteria in heart plaque."February 2007.(Aug. 30, 2014) http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/heart-disease-oral-health
  • KidsHealth. "Taking Care of Your Teeth." October 2012. (Aug. 30, 2014) http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/body/teeth_care.html
  • WebMD. "Plaque and Your Teeth." May 14, 2012. (Aug. 30, 2014) http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/plaque-and-your-teeth