We’ve all experienced it. That moment when you’re running out the door and grab a sip of orange juice to wash down your breakfast and find yourself gagging. You forgot that only a few minutes ago you brushed your teeth and in your head you chastise yourself for breaking the number one rule of morning routine worldwide: Never drink orange juice after brushing your teeth.
But why? The science behind taste is constantly evolving and sometimes controversial. Researchers seem to agree that it’s the surfactants in toothpaste that made you want to scrub your tongue with a wet rag after that rookie mistake.
What’s a Surfactant?
It’s present in almost all toothpaste and things like shampoo, detergents, etc. It’s usually listed in the ingredients section under the name of sodium lauryl sulfate and it what gives your soapy things suds and causes them to foam.
You have five areas of taste receptors on your tongue. They correspond to flavors of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and one random one called Umami which applies to savory tastes.
Surfactants and Your Taste Buds
This foaming agent, sodium lauryl sulfate, affects taste buds by dampening the receptors responsible for sweet flavors and increasing the detectability of bitter flavors. In somewhat scientific terms, it destroys the phospholipids which are the inhibitors on your bitter receptors.
Fun fact: Sodium lauryl sulfate has been tested in research studies and found to be successful at deterring sharks when used in high concentrations. This should make you feel so much better about your personal feelings towards it as it’s hated even by the most vicious creatures in the sea.
Orange juice isn’t the only food or drink that tastes disgusting after brushing your teeth. Other drinks like flavored sports drinks, milkshakes, alcoholic beverages, tea and even milk make many people feel repulsed. Others have reported top-of-the-list grossest mixes include spicy foods, icing, cookies, and fruit.
So, next time someone talks about how gross something tastes after brushing their teeth, you can surprise them with your scientific knowledge of why and maybe suggest rinsing their mouth with warm water before they start eating or drinking for the day. If you’re due for a cleaning call our office at to 509-532-1111 to schedule your appointment. We promise we won’t serve you orange juice afterward.
Or office in Spokane is located at:
3151 E. 28th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99223
Office phone # 509-532-1111