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There’s a Reason Toothpaste Makes Things Taste Horrible, and It’s Not Clashing Flavors

You should probably still brush your teeth, though.


Hey, how about a glass of orange juice to start your morning? You take a sip and expect cool, delicious sweetness, but instead, it tastes horrible, and you suddenly have the urge to stick your mouth under the faucet just to get rid of that flavor. But why? Why does toothpaste make things taste so bad? Well, there’s actually a chemical reason.

That’s right, it’s not just that mint doesn’t mix well with orange juice. I mean, there are plenty of flavors that mint doesn’t mix with, so it’s best to exercise caution when choosing what to eat after freshening your breath, but in the case of toothpaste, the horrible flavors are actually caused by additive chemicals. Specifically, those chemicals are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium lauryl ether sulfate.

Why does the toothpaste industry want you to never enjoy food again after brushing your teeth? Well, the added chemicals are there to convince your easily fooled brain that the toothpaste is actually doing something. That’s right, aside from the foam it causes acting as a detergent, it’s also a marketing ploy designed to let you know that the toothpaste is doing something.

In fact, that’s why toothpaste has its cool, minty flavor, too. The fresh, clean feeling doesn’t actually make your mouth any cleaner, but it’s a signal to let you know that the toothpaste has worked, which makes you more likely to buy more in the future. Sodium lauryl sulfate is an ingredient in shampoo for the foamy reason, so try to decide whether you feel weirder about shampoo ingredients in your mouth or toothpaste in your hair.

Apparently, we’re slobs who won’t brush our teeth or clean ourselves unless our product gives us instant gratification in the form of a clean, tingly feeling. Or we’d just switch brands to one that does, and the clean-peddlers don’t want that.

So, they stick additive ingredients in there that have the unfortunate side effect of making everything taste like butt. That happens because the foamy additives also dampen your sweet tastebud receptors and destroy the phospholipids in your mouth, which are compounds that dampen your bitter taste receptors. Basically, it turns sweetness way down and bitterness way up, so you couldn’t really taste anything properly if you tried.

But, now that you know that, all you have to do is find a toothpaste without those chemicals, get over the lack of foam, and then you can put whatever you want in your mouth—within reason.

(via Gizmodo, image via Deep Hazarika)

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Dan is many things, including a game developer, animator, martial artist, and at least semi-professional pancake chef. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (his dog), both of whom are the best, and he will never stop reminding The Last Jedi's detractors that Luke Skywalker's pivotal moment in Return of the Jedi was literally throwing his lightsaber away and refusing to fight.