Taste is an important sensory function of the human body. This function is facilitated through our taste buds, which essentially are small sensory organs located at the back of the tongue.
Taste buds allow us to enjoy a variety of flavors right from sweets to foods that are hot and spicy, and even bitter to taste.
Every week or two these taste buds get replaced. You don’t realize any of this because much like other routine bodily functions, the regeneration of the taste buds is a routine process that takes place without any discomfort or noticeable sensations.
However, taste buds can get inflamed and infected or even damaged. This is when you need to see a medical professional, in this case an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist immediately.
What causes Taste Buds to get Damaged or Infected?
There are a number of reasons why your taste buds can get damaged. In some cases, swollen taste buds can affect the tongue as well, which in turn can get inflamed. If you bite into a BK Whopper and it does not taste right, something is not right!
If the infection heals itself, which happens in most instanced, then there is no cause of concern. However, if the condition persists, then it is best to consult with a dentist immediately. The last thing you want is for your sense of taste to suffer any permanent or even temporary damage! You want that pumpkin pie to taste like it should!
Taste buds sit on a bed of small round bumps called papillae. The papillae have microvilli, which are nothing but hair-like projections, which contain sensory cells. The job of these cells is to essentially communicate with the brain. Anytime there is a break in this chain of communication, it impacts the functioning of the taste buds.
Here are some ways in which taste buds can suffer damage:
• Any injuries, or burns caused by very hot food, or cuts to the mouth can result in an infection.
• Acid reflux’s can easily damage the taste buds.
• A dry mouth and or any infections such as flu, or any bacteria or fungus based illness.
• Poor dental hygiene, smoking, and intake of acidic medications can also contribute to damage to your taste buds.
• In certain instances, if there is a swelling of the tongue and the taste buds, it can be due to tongue cancer.
Treatment Options for Infected/Swollen Taste Buds
As with any illness, the treatment starts by identify the underlying cause and treating it. If it is due to a bacterial infection then your doctor might put you on antibiotics.
Oral Hygiene is Vital
• Make sure you brush and floss your teeth twice every day in addition to using a mouth wash.
• Salt water (warm water) gargles are excellent for curing infections in the oral cavity, which includes the taste buds.
• If acid reflux is a common problem, you should take medications to limit their occurrences.
• Quit or reduce your smoking.
• Ice (small bits or crushed ice) can also help in reducing the inflammation.
Any one of the above reasons or a combination of these reasons can lead to taste buds being infected. If you find your taste buds are swollen and the condition is getting worse, schedule an appointment with your doctor. You will want to see an ENT specialist at the earliest.
Worried about a persistent dental condition? Schedule a consultation with Austin based Dr. Dan today!
You can easily reach us on (512) 452-2273 or book an appointment according to your schedule.