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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Ask Ms. Scientist: drinking water and toothpaste

What’s the difference between tap water and bottled water?

Stephen H.

Tap water comes from the sink or a bubbler (drinking fountain for you out-of-state folks), while bottled water is purchased from a store in a plastic bottle. Some people prefer bottled water because of its perceived higher quality, but it’s actually virtually the same as tap water in most cases. They are both considered safe by United States regulation standards.About 25 percent of bottled water comes from a city water system and is exactly the same as tap water. Bottled water often contains salts and minerals like calcium and magnesium, but these occur naturally in water in trace amounts and are also often found in tap water as well. Next time, think about grabbing a drink from the sink, because it’s just as good as bottled water, and it’s better for the environment (and your wallet).

Why do oranges taste so bad after brushing my teeth?

Albert E.

In toothpaste, there’s a chemical called sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS. SLS is a surfactant, meaning that it’s responsible for making toothpaste foam up when you brush your teeth. It also helps spread the toothpaste around your teeth more easily, so your mouth feels cleaner after brushing. However, it also has some side effects on the taste buds on your tongue. As you may know, we have five types of taste buds: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami. SLS actually blocks your sweet taste buds for a while after your brush your teeth, so you can’t taste the sweetness of the oranges very well. SLS also breaks down fats, which normally block your bitter taste buds. Since the fats no longer block your bitter taste buds, the oranges seem more bitter than usual as well. To make this worse, some scientists think that the acetic acid in oranges and the lingering fluoride from your toothpaste interact to make the taste even more bitter.

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