Throughout history the answers to many great questions have evaded us.
What is the meaning of life? Are there intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe? How do you throw away a garbage can? These might not be the kind of questions that you would expect your friendly Bryn Mawr dentist to be able to answer. But, fortunately those great scientists at the American Chemical Society have solved another one of life’s great mysteries:
Why does orange juice taste so bad after you brush your teeth?
It all has to do with one of the ingredients in most brands of toothpaste- sodium lauryl sulfate.
Toothpaste is formulated to do all kinds of good things- scrub your teeth, clean their surfaces, remove plaque, apply fluoride, and refresh your mouth. And it is sodium lauryl sulfate that gives toothpaste a great foamy clean feeling.
But this ingredient also affects your mouth’s 10,000 taste buds. These taste buds contain receptors which can sense five different types of tastes- sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and what the Japanese call “umami”- a pleasant and savory sensation. Researchers have found that sodium lauryl sulfate not only inhibits the sweet receptors in your mouth, it opens up the bitter ones. So orange juice’s great combination of sweet fruit sugar and bitter acid is received completely different after a good mouth scrubbing.
But don’t worry- there’s no harm other than a little morning pucker, and it’s better to brush your teeth after breakfast anyway!
So there you have it- the answer to one of life’s great questions. It does, however, bring another great question: who paid for this research?
If you have any great (or even not so great) questions for us, please remember that at Dillon Family Denistry we are here for you! If we can be of any help, or if you need to schedule an appointment, please call us at 610-525-5497. We won’t serve you any orange juice, but we can certainly give you a great big smile!