Most of us have experienced that bitter sensation a time or two, but what exactly causes it?
It’s a common misconception that mint-flavored toothpaste causes the unpleasant taste when eating that first meal after brushing. In reality, it’s a chemical found in most toothpastes called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or other variants like sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). These compounds are known as surfactants, which are foaming agents which make it easier to spread toothpaste evenly as you brush.
Aside from helping toothpaste clean your teeth, surfactants also affect your tastebuds.
Surfactants like SLS affect your tastebuds in a couple of different ways. First, it suppresses receptors that pick up the sweet taste in food and drinks. This is why some foods just taste a little more bland if you’ve recently brushed your teeth. The second way surfactants affect your taste is it enhances bitter flavors, so sour food and drinks taste especially bitter.
This effect is especially noticeable in orange juice. Believe it or not, your morning glass of OJ is actually surprisingly sour if you take away the sugar. So when you take a sip of orange juice after brushing your teeth, not only will SLS inhibit your ability to taste your drink’s sweetness, it will enhance the underlying sour flavor and make it really bitter.
Fortunately for us, the effects of SLS don’t linger too long in the morning. After about 30 minutes, your saliva will have diluted the leftover surfactants and things begin to taste normal again. In order to avoid the unpleasant taste after you brush, take a little time to read the paper or accomplish other to-do’s in your regular morning routine before you eat. Rearranging morning activities is an easy way to help your breakfast taste sweet!
We love making our patients smile. Whether it’s through fun tips like this or answering questions about your unique oral health situation, our priority is keeping your teeth happy and healthy. Do you have any more questions about your morning oral hygiene routine? We’d love to answer them! Call us or let us know in the comments below!