Brushing your teeth at least twice a day is an essential part of maintaining great oral hygiene, but have you ever noticed how certain foods and drinks taste off after your morning brush? You may think it’s just the toothbrush flavor not mixing well with your orange juice or toast, but there’s more to it than that. Ingredients in toothpaste temporarily affect your taste buds and while it doesn’t cause for concern, if it bothers you, it may be time to switch toothpastes.
Foaming agents in toothpaste
Ingredients in toothpaste can include fluorides, detergents, water softeners, abrasives, thickeners, and detergents. To cover the taste of all those ingredients, toothpaste often contains sweeteners, and that can throw off the normal flavor of the food you eat. Another ingredient in toothpaste that makes food taste odd is a foaming detergent, or surfactant, that helps clean your teeth by dissolving food particles. The foaming agent also aids in the distribution of toothpaste in your mouth as it carries away the oral debris that toothpaste detergents and abrasives work loose. Sodium laurel sulfate is the most common foaming agent in toothpaste, and it can interfere with your taste buds by making sweet things taste bad and heightening your sensitivity to bitter and sour flavors.
Surfactants like sodium laurel sulfate also exist in soaps and shampoos to give that gratifying foaming effect that many people believe means it’s cleaning better. However, it’s not necessary to use toothpaste with a foaming agent in you don’t want to, and various foam-free options exist. If you do use toothpaste with sodium laurel sulfate, avoid swallowing it. In general, you should never swallow toothpaste because it’s not intended as food.
Reasons foaming agents affect taste
The purpose of a detergent is to break down water-resistant lipids to help wash them away. When you wash a greasy pan, running it under water doesn’t usually do much, but when you add detergent, it breaks down the grease (lipids) so you can clean it off. Toothpaste with a foaming detergent works in a similar way to clean teeth although the water-resistant lipids in the mouth are more complex than those in a greasy pan. These lipids with a more complex structure, called phospholipids, exist in a membrane that surrounds every cell in your body, including the cells in your tongue. Using toothpaste with sodium laurel sulfate changes the permeability of the cells on your tongue and inhibits your ability to taste sweet things while making sour things taste bitter. This makes orange juice and other citrus drinks taste unpleasant after tooth brushing. Fortunately, this effect on your taste buds diminishes within half an hour as your saliva dilutes the foaming agent and washes it away.
Maintaining good oral health should never leave a bad taste in your mouth so you might consider waiting to eat or drink until the effects of sodium laurel sulfate diminish. Along with daily brushing, having regular dental exams and cleanings from Chianese Dental help keep your smile healthy.