What Swollen Taste Buds Tell You

Learning From Taste Buds

Do you feel your taste buds? There may be times you think they’re swollen or feel bumpy or hurt. What you call taste buds are receptor cells located on the upper tongue surface. They are found around the small, rounded bumps called papillae not only on the tongue, but also on the soft palate, upper esophagus, the cheek. These receptors are responsible for and enable you to taste sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory flavors. If your taste buds are swollen, it can really make you feel uncomfortable.

Typically, taste buds regenerate themselves about every one to two weeks. Yet, at times, they can be damaged, like getting burned or become swollen. If they are swollen, your tongue can be swollen, too, and can damage your sense of taste. That’s because within the papillae are microvilli projections that are strong sensory transmitters of taste to the brain. Any disruption to these can affect a person’s ability to taste foods.

What causes damage to the taste buds? There are many conditions that can irritate the taste buds to result in swelling. These include: very hot or very icy food or drinks, or similarly very spicy or sour, acid reflux disease, acidic medications, dry mouth, burns, cuts, or injuries to the mouth, radiation exposure to the head and neck, infection, such as a cold, flu, fungal, or bacterial illness, smoking and poor oral hygiene. Sometimes, it can be a symptom behind tongue cancer.

Normally, you wouldn’t be able to see your taste buds with the naked eye. Yet, you might see your tongue appear white or bright red, or have little fluid-filled blisters that are known as pustules on the tongue.

The cause of swollen or damaged taste buds determines the course of treatment. A specialist, called an otorhinolaryngologist or ENT can examine you and diagnose. They can prescribe medications to reduce tongue or taste bud swelling, such as antibiotics if there’s an infection or something for reflux disease.

A dentist can also address the condition with an examination of your oral health. Your dentist can prescribe treatment for soft tissue infection, like if you have gum disease. Other ways are by brushing and flossing teeth at least twice daily, using a special mouth rinse and toothpaste if a chronic dry mouth is a cause, or gargling with warm salt water several times daily. The situation needs to be addressed soonest as it can affect your appetite and food enjoyment.

Returning the Sensation of Taste

Not enjoying your food because of swollen taste buds? See your West Seattle dentist right away and let’s have a look-see at your oral health. One’s sense of taste is as important to health and life as anything.