Why does orange juice taste bad after brushing your teeth?

As dentists, we are slightly wary of orange juice – it can be packed with added sugar and you miss out on the fibre that comes from eating the whole fruit. However, there’s no denying that freshly squeezed juice tastes delicious…well, most of the time.

You’ve probably experienced the misfortune of glugging orange juice shortly after brushing your teeth, only to find its taste transformed into something ‘slightly’ less palatable. But why does this happen, and is there anything we can do about it?

What makes orange juice taste bad after brushing?

The culprit is your toothpaste, or to be more exact, the sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) in your toothpaste. SLS is found in lots of personal hygiene products and its main purpose is to create a ‘foam’ and increase the cleaning efficiency of your toothpaste.

Unfortunately, SLS also affects your sweet taste buds, making them less effective. What’s more, it destroys the fats that would normally inhibit your bitter taste buds. As a result, orange juice is temporarily robbed of its sweetness and takes on a not-so-nice bitterness.

What can you do?

The authors of one study on toothpaste vs orange juice concluded that it can take one hour for the effects of toothpaste to wear off. So, if you’re partial to a glass of orange juice with breakfast, set your alarm accordingly!

And before you think about brushing after orange juice. It might taste better, but over time you could risk damaging your teeth. Orange juice is both sweet and acidic, so it will temporarily soften your teeth’s enamel, leaving them vulnerable to damage and tooth decay.

Your saliva will quickly work to reharden your enamel through a process known as remineralisation, but brush too soon and you can injure this protective layer. Instead, wait for at least 30 minutes before you reach for your toothbrush.

Sweet stuff is best enjoyed at mealtimes, so we recommend enjoying that glass of OJ with food and opting for freshly squeezed – with the bits (if you can bear them).