Why Does Orange Juice Taste So Bad After Brushing?

July 11, 2021
Glass of orange juice isolated on white

So, like any health-concerned individual, you brushed your teeth thoroughly when you woke up in the morning. But then, you poured yourself a glass of orange juice. We all know how this story ends.

Have you ever wondered why orange juice tastes so weird after you brush your teeth? Are there ways to prevent this from happening?

The Ingredient to Blame

The strange, bitter taste of orange juice after brushing your teeth can be attributed to the sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) in the paste. SLS is sometimes abbreviated as SLES, for sodium lauryl ether sulfate. These ingredients are known as surfactants, which are also found in shampoos and detergents. These are added to help swish and spread the product in a foamy lather.

While the bubbly foam is fun and helpful for spreading toothpaste, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. SLS also suppresses receptors in your taste buds that pick up on sweet flavors, so you are unable to taste the sweet notes in your juice.

SLS also breaks apart fatty molecules on your tongue, which are called phospholipids. While your receptors allow you to detect sweet tastes, phospholipids prevent you from tasting bitter flavors.

When you add SLS to this equation, you get suppressed sweet flavors and enhanced bitter flavors, resulting in that painfully familiar taste.

Keeping the SLS at Bay

Sudsy toothpaste is fun and easy to work with, but it isn’t a necessary component for clean teeth. If bitter OJ is making your mornings less than enjoyable, you may be relieved to know that SLS-free toothpaste is available.

For those who want it all—great tasting OJ and spreadable toothpaste—options do exist. After you brush, drinking water or chewing sugar-free gum may help wash the SLS out, thereby increasing the flow of saliva.

Why Not Brush Your Teeth After Breakfast?

While this seems like a logical solution, it creates a whole new set of problems. It will result in better tasting juice, but it comes at an expense to your teeth.

Foods that are high in acids, including breakfast foods like orange juice, coffee, and grapefruit; can temporarily soften the enamel on your teeth. If you brush while your pearly whites are in this state, this can cause sensitivity, cosmetic damage, and pain.

You can brush your teeth after consuming acidic foods, just be sure to wait at least 30 minutes beforehand.

Have Clean Teeth and Enjoy Your AM Juice

We all know that orange juice after brushing your teeth tastes bad, but there are ways to handle it. We hope our tips unlocked the mystery behind the infamous mismatch of toothpaste and orange juice. Good luck getting the most out of both!

For a list of SLS-free toothpastes and for more information about the OJ toothpaste clash, check out this article.

Posted In: Dental Health