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Why Such a Sour Face?

Jun 03, 2013

Have a bad taste in your mouth?  No, it’s not that your brother made fun of your awesome new cat shirt.  If you brushed your teeth shortly before drinking orange juice, you can blame your toothpaste as the culprit.  What happens when the two delicious flavors mix can almost ruin an entire breakfast!

Why Such a Sour Face?
Photo source: imgfave.com

Most toothpastes contain an ingredient called sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS.  It’s the detergent that gives your paste the foamy bubbles and creates that “oh-so-clean feeling” when you’re done brushing.  Your tongue has over 10,000 buds with at least 100 taste receptors each.  You have the ability to sense five taste types: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (meaty tastes).  That is a whole lot of power in one mouth! When you eat food or drink anything, the chemicals in the food and drink match with the correct taste receptor, ignoring the other receptors.   Those buds then send signals to your brain telling you what to think about that particular food or drink. Got it?

When the SLS chemical from toothpaste bonds with your taste buds, something strange happens. SLS suppresses your sweet taste receptors and destroys the bitterness inhibitors called phospholipids.  The sweetness of orange juice is gone and the mouth puckers up immediately.

 Bytesize Science, which is part of the American Chemical Society, put together a great video to demonstrate how all this works.  Unfortunately, this phenomenon can last at least an hour and by that time, your waffle is cold.

You can avoid this bad taste by not drinking orange juice.  Orange juice is not very good for your oral health, although it’s better than soda.  There is quite a bit of acid and sugar in OJ that makes it completely guilty of assisting in tooth decay.   Dentist Yan Fang Ren of the University Of Rochester Health Center explains, you don’t have to give orange juice up cold turkey.  “Sipping a drink slowly over 20 minutes gives acid more chance to damage your teeth than drinking quickly.  And drinking through a straw also helps keep orange juice and other acidic drinks away from teeth.” 

The next time you brush your teeth and race to the fridge for a big sip of OJ, just remember what happens!  You may want to grab the chocolate almond milk instead.  

Source: bytezsizescience.com


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