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11 Main Reasons Your Teeth Feel Rough

When your teeth feel rough, it affects your entire oral health. Although sometimes it might be caused by a buildup of tartar or temporary deposition of food residue, it often implies an issue with the enamel.

In this article, we discuss 11 main reasons that may be behind roughening your tooth surface.

Let’s dive in.

11 Main Reasons Your Teeth Feel Rough

1. Enamel erosion is causing it

Tooth enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth. It protects your teeth from chewing, biting, and grinding forces. It also protects your teeth from bacteria that can cause tooth decay.

Your enamel comprises minerals, including calcium, phosphate, and fluoride. These minerals give it strength and hardness.

Any of the following can damage the enamel:

  • Acids in your food
  • Certain bacteria in your mouth
  • Chronic teeth grinding.

Although strong, the enamel has vulnerabilities that lead to erosion, hence a rough texture.

2. Acid reflux can make your teeth rough

Acid reflux causes regurgitation. It is the spitting up of food from your stomach without nausea. There is no apparent physical cause for this.

Regurgitation is not vomiting. In vomiting, the produced substances look digested. On the other hand, substances produced by acid reflux look half-digested.

If you have acid reflux, it’s best to steer clear of anything that could set off your symptoms. In some cases, drinking water can stop it. Water helps balance the pH of your acidic food, which may reduce the risk of acid reflux.

Besides, you can eat the following food items to minimize the occurrence of acid reflux:

  • Fiber-rich foods
  • Alkaline-promoting foods. For example, most fruits and vegetables, tofu, seed-based food, some nuts, and legumes
  • Watery foods. For example, melons, celery, lettuce

We have written comprehensively about acid reflux and tooth erosion. Do not forget to follow the link and read our post.

3. Citrus fruits are healthy but can roughen your teeth

We always say citrus fruits are healthy choices. But we should also not forget that they pose a great risk to your teeth.

We are talking about the following citrus fruits:

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits

They are quite acidic and can damage your teeth, especially if consumed routinely and excessively.

4. Soda? Or pop? Any sweet fizzy drink is harmful to teeth

Sodas can be non-alcoholic and mixed with alcoholic drinks. Whatever kind your soda is, understand that it will impact your teeth.

Almost all sodas have sugar and acid in them.

Sodas are known by many names, including the following:

  • Fizzy drink
  • Pop
  • Fizzy pop
  • Mineral
  • Fizzy juice
  • Ginger
  • Soft drink
  • Fizzy drink
  • Cool drink
  • Lemonade
  • Soda water
  • Carbonated drink
  • Lolly water
  • Coke
  • Soda pop
  • Tonic

Limit your soda drinks to two per week to protect your teeth.

The Victorian Government also puts the following on the list of items that can cause dental erosion:

  • Fruit-flavored lollies
  • Fruit juices
  • Vitamin waters
  • Vitamin C tablets
  • Vinegar

5. Pregnancy can make teeth rough

If you are pregnant, your teeth likely feel rough.

According to National Health Service (NHS), acid reflux is common during pregnancy. It results from the hormonal changes in your body and the baby pressing against your stomach.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), women may have a lot of cavity-causing bacteria during pregnancy and even after delivery. This is due to changes in their eating habits.

Cavities during pregnancy are sure to make your teeth feel rough.

You can use antacids to neutralize your stomach acid and alginates to relieve indigestion. Don’t forget to consult your doctor as your body is in a sensitive condition at this moment.

To protect women from cavities, CDC recommends the Protect Tiny Teeth Implementation Guide developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Download the guide by visiting the AAP website.

6. Regular exposure to chlorinated water can make your teeth feel rough

Many visit the community pool twice or thrice a week, if not every day. But what do all pools have in common? Chlorinated water.

The pool water is not harmful to you as long as it does not come in contact with your teeth. But if it does, it can erode your tooth enamel and make your teeth feel rough.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1986, 39% of swim team members using a private swimming pool for swimming practice complained of tooth erosion.

After clinical examination, it was found that the pool was largely unmanaged, and its pH level was astronomically higher than that recommended for swimming pools.

Do not take the pool water into your mouth. Wash your mouth with fresh water if the pool water enters accidentally.

7. Tartar may be the primary reason your teeth feel rough

The most common reason for teeth feeling rough is plaque and tartar buildup.

You can get rid of plaque buildup by brushing your teeth regularly and using a water flosser. But you cannot remove tartar at home.

Tartar is a hardened plaque buildup that a dentist can remove with professional dental tools. Your dentist will use an instrument called a scaler to do the job. If used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, a scaler can remove tartar above and below the gum line.

If not removed accordingly, tartar becomes calcified and hard. It can break off the back of your teeth, leaving a rough edge behind.

8. Tooth Decay

Though cavities caused by tooth decay do not immediately compromise a tooth’s texture, they do so when it is extreme or left untreated.

Cavities not only roughen the tooth surface; they compromise the tooth’s structural integrity, risking your entire oral health.

If you do not treat cavities, you may lose your tooth. You will need treatments like root canals, composite fillings, or veneers to prevent that.

Also Read: Tooth Decay Under Crowns: What To Do?

9. Tooth injury

The smoothness of teeth can also be affected by injury. A cracked or chipped tooth may have rough edges or places that can be felt while touching it. The sensation of the tooth as a whole usually isn’t affected by this kind of damage. Sometimes it may not even be painful.

Tooth injury may be linked to tooth trauma, which can, in turn, lead to dead teeth and tooth loss.

Use a mouthguard if you are into physical sports. Mouthguards distribute the pressure away from the spot where it was applied, thus protecting your teeth.

However, there is a limit to what they can do.

If your teeth feel rough after an injury or a game, consult your dentist for a professional examination. This is important and should not be overlooked.

10. Fermentation of carbohydrate

A study published about 80 years ago in Nature indicated that cavities do not indiscriminately attack the surfaces of teeth. The study’s author commented that cavities occur only at sites containing food residue, i.e., carbohydrates.

The carbohydrate is fermented by microorganisms residing in the mouth, producing acid. That acid, apart from the acid from acid reflux disease, causes cavities, finally making the surfaces of the teeth rough.

The study notes that carnivorous men and animals do not get cavities. That is because they do not eat carbohydrates.

11. Dry mouth is behind it

A dry mouth, or xerostomia, is an oral condition characterized by a lack of the necessary level of saliva in your mouth.

A dry mouth in itself is not the direct cause that makes your teeth rough. It creates conditions for other elements to act.

For example, one of the functions of saliva is to wash away bacteria and food residue in your mouth. It is also responsible for diluting the acid, thus making it acceptable to the mouth.

If you have a dry mouth, the acid in your mouth will work against you. The bacteria will feast on the food residue, causing havoc.

The result is uneven teeth surfaces.

Good to remember: Cavities have socio-economic consequences. According to New York Times, children with cavities tend to miss more school days and fare worse academically than those who don’t. Older adults and Black, Latino, Indigenous, and immigrant communities were the most likely to suffer from cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer.

How to strengthen your enamel and fight rough teeth?

Although eroded tooth enamel cannot be stored, you can strengthen it through remineralization. The tooth enamel can be strengthened using oral products containing calcium and fluoride. The products protect and prevent your teeth from eroding or getting worse.

Can overbrushing cause teeth to feel rough?

Overbrushing is not good for your teeth. Overbrushing or brushing with the wrong brush (hard-bristled toothbrush) may cause enamel erosion, creating rough edges on your teeth.

How to prevent tooth enamel from erosion?

How can one strengthen their teeth to forestall the wearing away of their enamel? Three major approaches are available, and they should be tried:

Drinking fluoridated water

Fluoride in water prevents cavities because it lingers in the mouth and becomes absorbed by the enamel.

Chewing gums without sugar

Chewing can help clean your teeth and remineralize your enamel by increasing saliva production. Make sure you use an enamel-protecting toothpaste when you brush your teeth.

Also Read: Dental Bonding for Enamel Loss

Having rough teeth is a common occurrence. The loss of tooth enamel can be avoided with careful oral hygiene and a diet low in acidic foods. After some time, your teeth will lose their roughness and become more refined.


NHS. Indigestion and heartburn in pregnancy. Accessed on 30 November 2022.

B S Centerwall, et al. Erosion of dental enamel among competitive swimmers at a gas-chlorinated swimming pool. American Journal of Epidemiology. 1986 Apr;123(4):641-7.

E. V. Mccollum. Diet in Relation to Dental Caries. Nature. 147, pages 104–108 (1941).

Better Health Channel. Dental Erosion. Accessed on 12 December 2022.

Kim Tingley. The Pandemic Was Bad for Our Teeth. Will It Change Oral Health Forever? New York Times. Accessed on 12 December 2022.

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