This Is Why Your Tongue Hurts After You Eat Sour Candy

Plus, here's how to ease the pain.

<p>Dotdash Meredith / Janet Maples</p>

Dotdash Meredith / Janet Maples

Like spicy food, sour candy is famous for its “hurts so good” flavor. Many sour candy lovers will tell you that the more painful, the better when it comes to their preferred treats. But the pucker-inducing pain can last long after you’re done eating. What is it about sour candy that gives it such a high-octane potency?

Can Sour Candy Hurt Your Tongue?

Everybody is different. Some folks can down a whole bag of Warheads, wash it down with a big glass of orange juice, and be fine. Some can’t handle even a single Sour Patch Kid. But rest assured, that tart burn can do real damage to your mouth.

Sour candy is highly acidic, and excess exposure to acid can absolutely burn you—especially the tender skin on the tongue and cheeks. Our taste buds are delicate, and the powerful tang that causes people to flock to sour candy damages the tongue's taste buds and skin. Thankfully, our taste buds can heal, but with constant exposure, it can be difficult and prolonged. Even if there isn’t any long-term damage, the short-term can be very painful.

<p>adobe stock allrecipes</p>

adobe stock allrecipes

Why Does Sour Candy Hurt Your Tongue?

Most sour candy is coated in a powdered form of citric acid, the acid that gives lemons their pucker power. Citric acid is, well, acid. It’s not as strongly corrosive as stomach acid, but it still packs a punch.

Acid isn’t the only thing that can hurt your tongue when it comes to sour candy: Many varieties use granulated sugar on the exterior to offset the sourness and give the powdered citric acid something to hang on to. Though sugar readily dissolves, the microscopic sharp edges of the granules can act as tiny shards, cutting up the surface of our tongues. If you’ve ever gotten lemon juice in a paper cut, you know exactly how painful a bit of citric acid in a small cut can be!

How to Heal Your Tongue After Eating Sour Candy

  • Take a break: The best thing you can do to help heal your tongue after overdoing it with sour candy? Put the candy down and walk away (for now). Give your tongue time to heal before exposing it to more acid.

  • Drink water: In the short term, swish with water to flush out the citric acid. Even after you stop eating, the acid will still work on your tongue, so rinsing your mouth out can prevent further damage.

  • Reach for the dairy: Some people swear by a big glass of milk or a bowl of cooling ice cream to help with the twang of sour candy. Milk has a higher pH and is more alkaline, neutralizing sour candies.

Does Sour Candy Impact Your Teeth?

A word to the wise: The acid in sour candy doesn’t just affect your tongue. It can also cause severe damage to your teeth. We all know that sugar, especially chewy or sticky candy, causes cavities. But the acid supercharges this sugar, making you more susceptible to decay.

“This acidity can also hurt your gums, and it can be very bad for your teeth, as it can soften and wear down your enamel…Eating too much of it can cause serious damage or lead to periodontal problems,” says Dr. Jerry Friedman of North Jersey Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery. Enamel loss starts at a pH of 4, so sour candy can definitely cause damage. Once that enamel is gone, your teeth are without their armor and more vulnerable to decay.

It might seem counterintuitive, but wait at least  30 minutes (but up to an hour) before brushing. Your saliva is an expert at washing away the acid but leaving enamel intact. Brushing will eliminate the acid and sugar, but can erode your enamel more than waiting half an hour would. Dr. Friedman suggests rinsing your mouth out with water directly after eating sour candy to minimize its adverse effects. 

Read the original article on All Recipes.