On the scale of minor daily annoyances, there’s almost nothing worse than taking a gulp of orange juice after you’ve just brushed your teeth. Ok, papercuts and traffic jams are pretty awful, too — but why is that acid/toothpaste taste so uniquely bad, anyway? Don’t go anywhere, because your dentist in Lancaster has the scoop on why toothbrushing affects certain flavors in this week’s blog post.
How Chemicals Affect Taste
The truth is, scientists aren’t exactly sure why oranges taste so bad after we have brushed our teeth. We are actually still learning a lot about the sense of taste, and that includes how the taste buds react to certain chemicals throughout the day.
One of the most popular explanations for that unpleasant sensation, though, is that it has to do with the chemical sodium laureth sulfate, which is mostly used to make the toothpaste foam up (so we think we’re getting a really good clean). As it turns out, the chemical also suppresses certain taste buds for several minutes after brushing.
That suppression means it’s harder for your brain to recognize that you have eaten something sweet after you have brushed your teeth. And when that sweet thing you’re eating is also high in acid (i.e. oranges), all you are likely to taste is that strong bitter flavor… without any of the sweet sensation that makes it enjoyable.
Preventing the Toothpaste/OJ Flavor
If you love orange juice or whole oranges but just can’t seem to handle the flavor in the morning, there may be a couple of things you can do to prevent the bad taste in your mouth.
To up your vitamin C intake while also protecting your oral health in the morning, try…
- Brushing your teeth with warm water
- Waiting until after you have eaten breakfast to brush your teeth (but wait a little while after eating to prevent the acid/brushing from eroding your enamel)
- Switch to a toothpaste that does not contain sodium laureth sulfate
- Drink OJ/eat oranges in the afternoon, instead!
Remember that if you find that your teeth are particularly sensitive to acidic foods or heat and cold, that may be a sign of a larger problem. Always get in touch with your dentist for treatment for sensitive or painful teeth.
About the Authors
Dr. Sean Moriarty and Dr. Michael H. Cohen provide excellence in general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry at Mor Smiles. To learn more about their services or to schedule an appointment of your own, please do not hesitate to contact the office at (717) 961-5767.