Why Does Orange Juice Taste So Bad After Brushing?

November 11, 2018

Glass of orange juice isolated on whiteWe’ve all been there. You start the day right by thoroughly cleaning your teeth, then someone offers you a juicy mango or cold glass of orange juice.

But you have to pass, because brushing your teeth makes these otherwise yummy foods have a strange and unpleasant taste. So, what’s the reason behind this phenomenon?  What can you do to prevent it from ruining your breakfast? Keep reading to find out.

The Ingredient to Blame

You can shoot side-eye at sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES). Scientists call this chemical a surfactant, and it’s what make products like toothpastes, shampoos, and detergents foamy and easy to swish around.

While oodles of foamy bubbles are all well and good, SLS comes with a less fun side effect. It suppresses the receptors in your taste buds that allow you to taste sweet flavors, so any sweet notes in a beverage or food are masked.

To add insult to injury, SLS also breaks up fatty molecules on your tongue, called phospholipids. Phospholipids work by repressing bitter tastes so that those flavors aren’t so overwhelming. When you throw a surfactant into the mix, bitter flavors are enhanced.

Keeping the SLES at Bay

Abstract background of soap foam, suds, shower. Macro view. Toned photo, soft focusFoamy, spreadable toothpaste can be easier to work with, but it isn’t a must. If bitter OJ is putting a damper in your mornings, try scouring the toothpaste aisle for pastes that are SLS-free.

Perhaps you want the best of both worlds—enjoyable OJ and foamy toothpaste. Fortunately, avoiding surfactants isn’t the only way to save your breakfast. Drinking water or chewing sugar-free gum will increase saliva flow, which will help wash SLS away.

Why Not Brush Your Teeth After Breakfast?

This seems like a good idea and a viable solution to the gross taste of orange juice after brushing your teeth, but while this will likely result in a better tasting meal, it isn’t good for your oral health.

The acidic foods and beverages we often consume at breakfast–including citrus fruits, coffee, and fruit juices—can soften the outermost layer of your teeth. If you brush your teeth while this layer, called the enamel, is soft, the abrasion from your toothbrush can scrub it away and cause permanent damage. This could lead to pain, sensitivity, and cosmetic issues.

If you do want to brush your teeth after eating an acidic food, make sure to wait at least 30 minutes.

Have Clean Teeth and Enjoy Your AM Juice

There are ways to have your cake and eat it too. We hope our tips allow you to avoid the infamous clash of toothpaste and orange juice.

For more information about SLS-free brands of toothpaste, check out this article.