This morning I woke up late and had to dash out the door, so I did the worst morning blunder in existence – I drank a glass of orange juice after I brushed my teeth. ACK! There is really nothing that tastes more horrific to a newly clean set of chompers than orange juice. But it got me thinking…why is this the case? Brushing my teeth and drinking juice are pretty synonymous with the morning. So who decided to mess with the logic? I had to experiment more. I’m not a coffee drinker but I gave it a shot. Nope. That was awful too. Problem is, I don’t like coffee so that wasn’t really convincing. But in fact, everything I drank after I brushed my teeth tasted badly. Relieved it wasn’t just juice, I decided to learn a little bit more about the other variable in this vile equation. The toothpaste.
And wouldn’t you know it? It really is all the toothpaste’s fault. Depending on which you choose, there is an ingredient in toothpaste called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES). The pros? It makes brushing your teeth easier. These surfactant chemicals are what makes your toothpaste foamy and easily spreadable in your mouth. And since cleaning your teeth is the whole point of toothpaste in the first place, it looks like we really ought to have it in the recipe.
The cons? SLS/SLES reacts to the mouth in a funny, not so funny one-two punch. On one side, they attack all of the taste buds that like any sort of sweetness and temporarily cripples them. On the other, they break up our tongue’s phospholipids. Phospholipids are fatty molecules that block bitter flavors, keeping us from being too overwhelmed by how sour something really tastes. So not only are your sweet taste buds down for the count, but now your bitter taste buds have superhero strength. It’s a battle of the ages!
Thankfully, we have a natural hero that comes around to rescue us from the bitter defeat – saliva. Once you finish brushing your teeth, saliva comes in and dissolves the remaining SLS/SLES in our mouths. And about a half hour later, our taste buds are back to normal and everything is good as new. And just so you know, they do make SLS/SLES-free toothpaste, but having the rabid dog foamy mouth look is such a fun part of the process.
After all is said and done, it’s good to know that there is a deeper reason why toothpaste and orange juice don’t mix. And the fact we can circumvent the entire situation is nice. I’m sure this won’t be a singular instance, especially when in a jam. I just wish it didn’t have to happen so early in the morning.
Although toothpaste and orange juice aren’t the best combination, you should still be sure to brush your teeth every morning. For more fun facts regarding oral care, visit www.davidluntdds.com.