Drinking orange juice right after brushing your teeth can have an unpleasant taste and there is a scientific reason behind it.
So, Why does toothpaste affect the taste of orange juice and other sweet breakfast (or midnight) snacks?
According to Guy Crosby, professor of nutrition at the TH Harvard School of Public Health, it all comes down to what happens to the taste receptors in our taste buds.
Simply put, a compound in toothpaste called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) It alters the way we process certain flavors, at least temporarily.
But let’s start with how we detect different tastes. If you touch your tongue, you will notice that it is covered with bumps and mini ridges.
Each of these bumps is made up of taste buds, which in turn are made up of taste receptors. Our mouth has between two thousand and four thousand taste buds in total, and each palate has between 10 and 50 receptors.
All our taste buds help us perceive five types of flavors:
The act of testing is a bit like a chemical puzzle. When we bite into something, that food releases molecules that have certain shapes, and these shapes float in our mouths.
Each food flavor has a unique shape, which matches a type of flavor receptor with a corresponding shape.
However, a compound present in most toothpastes wreaks havoc on taste receptors.
IS THERE A FIFTH TASTE?
Taste buds in the mouth play an important role in determining the taste of food, drinks or toothpastes.
During vigorous brushing, the toothpaste bubbles and foams in your mouth. This happens because the paste includes the aforementioned compound, SLS, which acts as a “detergent” on the teeth.
Also, SLS is found in products that bubble or lather, including personal care products such as shaving cream.
But studies have shown that SLS affects the capacity of our taste receptors; it makes them more susceptible to bitter flavors and reduces the amount of sweet flavors.
Oranges are slightly bitter, thanks to citric acid, but that flavor is usually darkened in the juice by the extra sugar.
According to the American Chemical Society, SLS not only suppresses our sweetness receptors, but it also removes our phospholipids, compounds that hinder our bitterness receptors.
All of this essentially means that your orange set will taste even less sweet and even more bitter.
All research on the subject of SLS exists and its impact on flavor dates back to a 1980 study in the journal Chemical Senses, Crosby told Scientific American.
According to Crosby, the authors of the article claim that SLS reduces the sweetness of sucrose (essentially sugar), the salinity of sodium chloride (salt) and the bitterness of quinine (the flavoring used in tonic water) but increases the bitterness of citric acid (typically found in fruits such as limes and oranges).
Although it is possible to avoid this by drinking orange juice before brushing your teeth, it is important to note that acidic foods and drinks can weaken the enamel of the teeth, especially if consumed immediately before brushing.
Crosby said waiting just a few minutes is all that is needed, as the physical interaction between SLS and taste cells is a temporary change.
SLS dissolves with additional saliva, and once we eat other foods, normal sense of taste is restored.