Brushing your teeth is a pleasant experience that leaves a clean feeling and a minty-fresh taste in our mouths. A nice, cold glass of orange juice in the morning can also be pleasant, giving us a sweet, citrus-tasting dose of Vitamin C. Why then does drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth taste like battery acid? Why this happens is actually something that has baffled dentists, hygienists and scientists for decades!
Scientists are still researching the full extent of how our taste buds work. However, there’s enough understanding of the process of taste for researchers to come to a general conclusion about what makes the orange juice and toothpaste combo taste so horrible.A� If you’re considering dental hygienist training, you’re probably curious about how exactly the human mouth works, and why we taste things the way we do.
Read on to find out what scientists think is responsible for the reaction in our mouths between orange juice and toothpaste!
How Taste Works: A Brief Guide for Dental Hygienists
In recent years, scientists have challenged the tongue mapa��a staple in biology classes and dental hygienist schools that charts distinct regions of taste. For the longest time, there were only four primary tastes: sweet,A�salty,A�sourA�andA�bitter. Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda sought to detect another taste found commonly in Japanese cooking. Eventually, he had isolated glutamic acid as a distinct fifth taste, which he named “umami”a��a Japanese word meaning delicious, savory taste. Umami has its own receptors on the tongue and you can taste umami in meats and tomatoes.
Most people confuse taste and flavor. Taste is a chemical sense that is perceived by the receptors that make up taste buds. Flavor is perceived by the combination of multiple senses. To perceive flavor, the brain doesn’t only consider taste, it also interprets smell, texture, and temperature sensations. When we eat spicy food, the brain even factors in pain as an aspect of flavor.
Dental assistants should be aware of recent studies that have shown that toothpaste temporarily interferes with our ability to taste. This interference happens in two ways.
Toothpaste Causes Chemical Reactions in Our Mouths
After looking at how receptors in our taste buds perceive taste, it’s important to note that these receptors can be manipulated. Scientists consider this the primary reason that orange juice and toothpaste can’t get along on our tongues.
Dental hygienist training teaches about some of the ingredients commonly found in toothpaste. One of these ingredients – called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – is what’s responsible for making it foam when we brush our teeth.A� SLS also hinders the sweet receptors in your mouth for a short time after brushing your teeth. Our tongue also has phospholipids on it, which are cells that are responsible for keeping the bitterness in our food from tasting too strong. Toothpaste breaks down these cells on our tongues for a short while after brushing.
With toothpaste both decreasing our ability to taste sweet and enhancing our receptors for bitterness, it’s no wonder why orange juice tastes like a glass of misery.
To avoid having to go through this taste experience again, experts recommend brushing your teeth after breakfast!
Are there any other foods that taste awful after brushing your teeth?