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Question: Why does toothpaste makes orange juice taste terrible?

For those among us that ever drank a glass of orange juice in the morning after brushing our teeth: that was a lesson learnt. And it’s a lesson most of us learn as young kids — orange juice and toothpaste just don’t mix. But why?

In fact, it is all in the taste buds. Our taste buds can detect different flavor types: salty, savory, sour, sweet and bitter. When you brush your teeth, your ability to detect sweet flavors (candy, pastries, OJ or anything else) stops working so well.

How? Well, explains how toothpaste and toothbrush work up a foamy lather that creates bubbles and makes our mouth feel clean. But this foam is made by a chemical called sodium laurel sulphate (SLS). On top of disabling our sweet receptors, SLS also break up the phospholipids or fatty compounds that help reduce bitter tastes, meaning that once sweet, refreshing glass of OJ is now highly detectable by your taste buds as bitter.

If you want to counter all this, smoothies are also a great alternative to orange juice. Add some creamy coconut milk, nutty almond butter or other ingredients that have flavors that hold up to SLS.

You could also switch to a toothpaste that doesn’t contain SLS. Pick up a tube at the store and read the ingredients — the packaging will usually tell you if the product contains SLS. If you aren’t sure which toothpaste to choose, or if you’re not sure your new selection is a good choice, you can always ask your dentist for a recommendation.

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