What is it about toothpaste that transforms the sweet flavor of orange juice into something so bitter? For the solution to that mysterious sensory phenomenon – in colorful, animated detail – check the latest episode of the American Chemical Society’s award-winning Bytesize Science video series at http://www.bytesizescience.com/ (Video also below)
The video, from the world’s largest scientific society, explains that the mainstay ingredients in toothpaste include a detergent called sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS for short. When you brush your teeth, SLS produces the foamy suds and gives toothpaste its distinct mouth-feel. SLS also influences the way your personal, powerful chemical sensor tastes food.
That sensor is your mouth, with its 10,000 individual taste buds. Each consists of scores of receptor cells that respond to the basic tastes. Those are sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (a pleasant, brothy or meaty flavor). Nerves carry the resulting signals to the brain, which registers tastes. How does SLS affect your sense of taste? For the answer: