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Tasting Orange Juice after Cleaning the Teeth

Chapter 1: Science Aspects of Tasting Orange Juice after Cleaning the Teeth

In this science project we will examine closely why according to the book “Wie man mit einem Schokoriegel die Lichtgeschwindigkeit misst” orange juice tastes so awful after cleaning the teeth shortly before.

Have you ever made this experience? You have overslept and you are in a hurry. After cleaning your teeth you drink a glass of orange juice, but the flavour of the juice is awfully bitter instead of sweet. And then the whole breakfast may also taste disgusting. There’s something wrong!

The bitter taste of orange juice after cleaning the teeth with a certain toothpaste is the consequence of the interaction of particular substances. The juice of the oranges contains a lot of substances of taste, among them there are bitter ones like the Limonin.

The flavour of the orange juice is sensed by taste receptors on the tongue and so we can taste four kinds of flavour: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. The respective receptors are not regularly divided on the tongue. The sweet taste is in front of the tongue and the bitter one is in the back sector, near the throat.

Toothpastes contain water and different herb extracts like chamomile, Arnika, Calendula, Hamamelis, myrrh, rosemary and sage. Beside other effects they also affect the function of the taste receptors and cause a numb sense on the tongue.

In toothpastes there are often peppermint oils. They contain much menthol and cause a cool freshness but numb sense on the tongue, too. If you clean your teeth, the toothpaste especially gets in touch with the front part of the tongue-body. The taste receptors in the back part of the tongue, where you feel bitterness, are quite less concerned than the receptors on the apex which is responsible for the sweet taste.

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Chapter 2: Tasting Orange Juice after Cleaning the Teeth – the experiment

Proceedings: the project was done on 14th June, 2012

  • Selection of the experiment from the book “Wie man mit einem Schihriegel die Lichtgeschwindigkeit misst”

  • Internet research of the scientific topics

  • Organising the paper: structure, pictures to be used

  • Carrying out the experiment

  • Taking pictures

  • Writing the draft

  • Typing of the paper

  • Proof reading

    What I need:

    • Orange/apple juice

    • A toothbrush

    • 3 kinds of toothpastes: 1. with ordinary mint

    2. with mint without a raising agent (available from health food shop)

    3. without mint

    Experiment report

    The purpose of this experiment is to find out why an orange juice tastes bitter after cleaning the teeth with toothpaste shortly before. So I will try to prove the maintained results as described in the book.

    First I took a mouth full of orange juice and I enjoyed its sweet and sour flavor. Then I cleaned my teeth with a toothpaste which did not contain any mint substances. After that I took another mouthful of orange juice and tasted its flavor again.


After cleaning my teeth with a toothpaste, that did not contain any mint products, the orange juice tasted sweet as before.

After I had cleaned my teeth the second time with a minty tasting toothpaste, I had bought in a health food shop, I took a mouthful of orange juice but this time it tasted a bit strange but not so bad.

At last I tried the toothpaste with ordinary mint and had some orange juice shortly after. It tasted horrible like a bitter medicine.


Since 1970 people knew the so-called “orange juice effect”. A lot of producers add raising agents to the toothpaste because they form foam, divide better in the mouth and are easier to rinse out. But this fact causes an awful side effect: these substances react with the taste buds of the tongue and prevent the sensitivity for sweet and salty food so that the bitter flavor is predominant.

Raising agents are nit a necessary part of the toothpaste, but similar to soap, people think that there is no benefit without forming foam. People also do not believe in the effect of a toothpaste that has no real taste of mint.

In Japan, most toothpastes have a flavor of fruits and in the West, toothpaste for children mostly do not have a minty taste but a fruit one.

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