So you get out of bed in the morning, hobble over to the sink, floss and brush your teeth and rinse your mouth feeling super fresh and clean – well done you! You swiftly get dressed and head across to your kitchen and grab some long awaited breakfast. You feel extra inspired and freshly squeeze some orange juice for yourself. As you take the first gulp of your juicy, fresh and sweet orange juice it just knocks you by surprise and tastes horrible and sour…yuck!
So have you ever wondered why certain foods taste unpleasant after brushing your teeth in the morning? Most of us have experienced that sour or bitter sensation once in a while, but what exactly causes it?
Don’t Blame Your Mint Toothpaste!
Mint-flavored toothpaste isn’t what’s causing the issue – that’s a common misconception. What’s causing the unpleasant taste in reality, is 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 that make it easier to spread toothpaste evenly as you brush.
Your Tastebuds are Affected by Surfactants
Aside from helping toothpaste clean your teeth, did you know that surfactants also affect your tastebuds?
Surfactants like SLS affect your tastebuds in a couple of different ways.
- It suppresses receptors that pick up the sweet taste in food and drinks. This is why some foods taste kind of bland if you’ve recently brushed your teeth.
- Surfactants affect your taste is by enhancing bitter flavors, so sour food and drinks taste especially bitter.
That’s why when you drink orange juice it’s particularly noticeable. 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.
Don’t Worry! Your Taste Buds Will Soon go Back to Normal
You’ll be delighted to know that 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. If you can change-up your morning routine so you leave a little extra time between brushing your teeth and eating. Alternatively you can look for an SLS free toothpaste next time you’re at the grocery store or shopping online for your oral care products.