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Why Toothpaste Makes Everything Else Taste Bad (and How to Fix It)
Ever brush your teeth, then take a swig of
orange juice only to curse yourself
for drinking such a vile combination?
Magazine and weblog Mental_Floss explains
why this happens, and how to avoid it. The
strong minty flavor is probably part of the problem, as you’d expect, butMental_Floss notes that it goes deeper than
that. Most toothpastes contain sodium laureth sulfate (and its counterparts,
sodium lauryl ether sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate), which is responsible
for making the toothpaste foam up in
your mouth. Its also responsible for everything tasting bad afterward:
While surfactants make brushing our teeth a
lot easier, they do more than make foam. Both SLES and SLS mess with our taste
buds in two ways. One, they suppress the receptors on our taste buds that
perceive sweetness, inhibiting our ability to pick up the sweet notes of food
and drink. And, as if that wasn’t enough, they break up the phospholipids on
our tongue. These fatty molecules inhibit our receptors for bitterness and keep
bitter tastes from overwhelming us, but when they’re broken down by the
surfactants in toothpaste, bitter tastes get enhanced.
Basically, they enhance bitter tastes and
inhibit sweet ones, making everything taste bad. There are lots of theories out
there, but this is currently the most widely accepted one.
The solution? You could brush your teeth
after breakfast, but many dental professionals say it’s better to brush
beforehand. So, the better option is to search for an SLS-free toothpaste the
next time you’re shopping. Speaking from experience, an SLS-free toothpaste
changes everything—I used one for a little while and never had the “disgusting
orange juice” debacle in the morning. Generally it doesn’t matter what kind of
toothpaste you buy, but if you must brush your teeth before breakfast, buying
one without SLS is a good idea. Of course, you could always brush your teeth in
the shower, too.