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Why Does Food Taste Different After Brushing?

Ever brush your teeth and then take a sip of orange juice? Yep, it doesn’t taste very good. In fact, this can happen with certain foods and drinks after brushing.

The culprit: One specific ingredient in toothpaste is responsible for altering your taste buds: sodium laureth sulfate. Sodium laureth sulfate sometimes appears on toothpaste labels as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

What it does for your toothpaste: Sodium laureth sulfate is a surfactant, or foaming agent, that is commonly used in toothpaste and other products. Sodium laureth sulfate makes it easier to uniformly spread the toothpaste around your mouth. It is also has an emulsifying action which helps the toothpaste remove surface stains and dissolve debris.

What it does to your taste buds: While SLES and SLS makes brushing your teeth a little easier, it also affects your taste buds in a couple different ways. First, it suppresses the receptors that pick up on the sweetness in foods and drinks. It also enhances bitter tastes, so anything sour that you eat or drink will taste really bitter.

Why it doesn’t last: Luckily, food and drinks start to taste normal again about 30 minutes after brushing, when your saliva has diluted and washed away all the leftover SLS. So now you know – don’t rush to drink your orange juice right after brushing!

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