Taste… It’s More than a Sense of Style

Taste Buds, what do they do?

What would life be like if we couldn’t taste anything? It wouldn’t matter if you drank coffee or orange juice – they would just be flavorless liquids. The only difference between chocolate and Brussels sprouts would be texture. Eating wouldn’t be nearly as fun, so the restaurants and markets you love probably wouldn’t exist. Taste is a big part of our lives, each and every day.

The primary organ responsible for our sense of taste is the tongue, but you knew that. What you may not know is, the tongue is made up of eight muscles and has up to 10,000 taste buds. Each taste bud features microvillae, microscopic hair-like structures that send information about flavor to the brain.

Taste buds are located on the little bumps on our tongue, which are called papillae. Various parts of our tongue hold taste buds that sense five flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. What the heck is umami? It’s a type of taste that was officially recognized in 1985. Umami describes the taste of glutamates, which have a brothy or meaty flavor.

Every few weeks, we produce new taste buds. So when you burn your tongue and seem to lose your sense of taste in that area for awhile, you’ll probably regain the sense fairly quickly. The older we get, the fewer taste buds we regenerate, so at some point, you’ll lose the acute sense of taste you have in your youth. Having a stuffy nose can also interfere with taste because olfactory senses factor into how foods and drinks taste. Smoking, too, can dull the sense of taste.

At checkups, Dr. Fondriest will closely inspect your tongue. He’ll look for lesions that may indicate oral cancer. If you notice any problems with your tongue, be sure to tell Dr. Fondriest during your visit!

Lake Forest Dental Arts serves patients from Lake Forest, as well as the greater Chicago area. Dr. Fondriest is a general dentist offering preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry. Call today to schedule your checkup, consultation, or second-opinion visit.

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