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We have all experienced the dreaded foul taste associated with orange juice after brushing. Most adults are aware of this phenomenon but many kids have yet to experience the displeasure firsthand. The question arises, why does tooth brushing change our tastes so dramatically to be able to turn sweet orange juice into a bitter tasting drink?

Main ToothPaste Ingredients

Toothpaste is generally in the form of a paste or a gel that serves the main purpose, of cleaning and maintaining our teeth and gums. Toothpaste has the ability to be abrasive, in order to remove light staining as well as dental plaque from around our teeth. Today, there are also many toothpastes to serve other roles, including teeth whitening, to relieve tooth sensitivity, and to relieve bad breath. These toothpastes use many different ingredients to specifically fit your dental needs and preferences. So what are the main ingredients of toothpaste?

-Abrasives - These ingredients make up the majority of most toothpastes (usually very close to 50%). These abrasives work to physically remove plaque and light stain. Some tooth pastes used white mica as their abrasive. White mica is a very mild abrasive and also gives tooth paste its trademark shimmer in the light. Many other brands use baking soda as an abrasive.

-Fluoride – The addition of fluoride to toothpaste gives the added benefit in replacing weaker ions with stronger fluoride ions in enamel. There are different types of fluoride used and these include Sodium Fluoride (most common), stannous fluoride, olaflur, and sodium monophosphate. In studies, it has been shown that stannous fluoride is  effective  in decreasing tooth decay and also controlling gingivitis and sensitivity.

-Surfactants (detergents) – Most toothpastes contain an ingredient known to cause the very familiar  foaming action. This ingredient is called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and is also found in other personal hygiene products like shampoo. The foaming action increases a toothpastes effective cleaning power. Surfactants also help to remove plaque and stains and form a slippery barrier so that it is more difficult for plaque to adhere.

Other Ingredients – These can include antibacterial agents (like triclosan or zinc chloride), tooth enamel remineralizers (like calcium phosphate), and flavorants (like peppermint or spearmint).

Which Ingredient Is The Culprit?

It is believed that we perceive flavors based on interactions between taste molecules and the receptors on our tongues. Different molecules will interact with different receptors ( bitter, salty, sweet, etc.). The culprit in tooth paste is believed to be Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). SLS has been known to suppress the receptors in your mouth responsible for the taste of sweets. It has also been found to destroy phosholipids. Phospholipids act as inhibitors to your bitter receptors. So, the theory is that by inhibiting sweet receptors and destroying phospholipids, SLS is able to dull the sweetness and promotes the bitter taste in orange juice.

SLS is found in about 99% of all toothpastes sold in the world today. It is believed that this foaming detergent is also responsible for giving people canker sores. Patients who have found that switching to an SLS free toothpaste helps reduce the number of canker sores they get over time.

Mint oil is also a culprit. Mint is a very strong flavor, it can easily overpower the subtleties of orange juice flavor.

Conclusion

Now you finally have an answer to that question that has been in the back of your mind all of these years! Now that you know why orange juice and toothpaste taste so bad together, try to remind yourself that it is better to brush after breakfast than before. Remember to practice good oral hygiene daily as well as visiting your dentist regularly to maintain a healthy and bright smile.

Diabetes affects almost 26 million people in the United States and is a growing problem due to the obesity epidemic.  The relationship between a person’s oral health and his/her diabetes is of utmost concern to health care professionals but especially dentists.

Patients with Diabetes have an increased risk of oral health issues due to poorly controlled blood sugars. Diabetes impairs white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infections.  These bacterial infections can affect everything in the mouth as well as the rest of the body.

A number of oral disorders are associated with Diabetes. The association between periodontal disease and diabetes has been studied at length with a definite correlation between the two.

The common oral health issues facing Diabetic patients include:

*Increased Dental Caries. There has been no study to effectively correlate this relationship. But anecdotal evidence leads me to believe this is a real problem for Diabetic patients withBioteneout good control over their blood glucose levels. Patients who are type 2 diabetics(meaning that it is not genetically caused but caused by diet) tend to eat more carbohydrates and sugary foods enhancing the possibility of increased caries rate. Also some patients experience xerostomia, which is more commonly referred to as “dry” mouth. I usually recommend Biotene for patients.Biotene  has the added benefit of containing a bio-active salivary enzyme protein system that actively combats bacteria, reducing bad breath, improving oral hygiene and relieving oral dryness.Some of the salivary dysfunction is caused by medications and age as well.

*Oral Mucosal Disease and other infections. Different types of oral disease are found, including lichen planus and recurrent aphthous stomatitis. People with diabetes that are often taking antibiotics to fight off infections are prone to developing Oral candidiasis(a fungal infection of the mouth and tongue). Oral candidiasis is found more frequently in patients with diabetes. Candidiasis occurs due to a patient being in a weakened immune state as well as a secondary response to the “dry” mouth mentioned above. This particular fungus thrives on the high levels of sugar in the saliva of people with uncontrolled diabetes.  This fungus results in a burning sensation in areas of the mouth and sometimes a loss or change in taste.

*Periodontal Disease (gingivitis and periodontitis) have been shown to have a direct link to Diabetes. It has been noted that elevated levels of Periodontal disease also lead to complications in management of blood glucose levels. This disease tends to be more prevalent and more severe in diabetic patients than in the general population. This is mainly due to the fact that diabetics have decreased wound healing and infection fighting ability.

Diabetics who smoke are at a much higher risk of disease.  Their risk factor can be as much as 20x more likely than non-smokers to develop thrush and periodontal disease. Smoking does seem to reduce blood flow to the gums and this can also affect healing in the tissue area.

Because people who suffer from diabetes can be more prone to symptoms that may harm their oral health, it’s very important to follow dental home care instructions and to note any changes in your oral health. Promptly schedule a dental consultation if you notice any changes.

Dental Hygiene for Diabetics

We always recommend visiting the dentist and hygienist at least twice a year but it is doubly important in patients with diabetes. They need to strive to keep their mouths as bacteria free as they can. In conjunction with proper brushing we also recommend that patients floss after every meal if possible. A daily mouthwash can be beneficial as well.