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What Causes Loss Of Taste?

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Reaching for the salt and pepper more often than you used to? Wondering why everything suddenly tastes so bland … or awful? Totally indifferent to the dishes you once loved? Don’t blame the cook – your sense of taste may be the culprit.  

An impaired sense of taste can refer to a lessened ability to taste specific flavors, an overall reduction in the vibrancy of all flavors, or a strange (often metallic) taste in the mouth. Research shows that more than 200,000 people visit a doctor each year for problems with their ability to taste or smell, and up to 15% of adults likely have impaired abilities to taste or smell but don’t seek medical help.  

It’s not uncommon for people to lose their sense of taste either completely or partially for a short period of time. Chances are you’ve noticed a change or reduction in how things taste whenever you have a bad cold, and one of the symptoms to be identified early in the COVID-19 pandemic was loss of taste. Thankfully it is rare to completely lose your sense of taste permanently.  

Why Can’t I Taste Anything?  

If you’re suffering with a cold, flu, sinus infections, strep throat, or allergies – you will probably notice your sense of smell is impacted too. That’s because the flavor of food is produced through a joint effort of our senses of taste and smell.   

When you eat, molecules from the food are released into the air and make their way to the olfactory receptors located at the top of the nasal passages. Nasal congestion, caused by inflammation of the nasal tissues or the presence of mucus, can block these molecules from reaching the olfactory receptors, significantly reducing the sense of smell.   

Other reasons that your sense of taste may be impaired include:  

  • Gum inflammation, dental decay, and other problems in your mouth can taint the taste of your food with metallic and other unpleasant flavors.   
  • Dry mouth, medically known as xerostomia, occurs when the salivary glands in the mouth do not produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. Saliva dissolves food particles in the mouth, which then allows the taste compounds to interact with the taste receptors on the tongue. Dry mouth can also cause dental decay, as it helps keep your mouth clean by washing away food particles  
  • Some medications (including lithium, thyroid medications, and cancer treatments) will diminish your ability to taste food and may also cause your mouth to taste of metal. Medications are also, many times, the reason for dry mouth. 
  • Nutritional deficiencies, especially a lack of vitamin B-12 and zinc, can suppress your sense of taste  
  • An injury to your head or ear may cause your sense of taste to diminish for a time.  
  • Gastric reflux can diminish your ability to taste. Chronic exposure to stomach acid can damage the tissues of the mouth and throat, including the taste buds. GERD can contribute to dental erosion due to the acidity of the stomach contents that come into contact with the teeth.  
  • The impact of smoking tobacco on a person’s ability to taste is well-known. Quit and your taste of smell will start to return in as little as two days, and your food will start tasting better. And vaping can cause dry mouth.   
  • Aging. Some people over the age of 60 will notice that they are less sensitive to even the strongest flavors. Also, as we age, we are more likely to start taking medications (for example, to lower cholesterol, to lower blood pressure, etc.) and the medications can lead to dry mouth which can lead to altered taste. 

How to recover your sense of taste  

Healing or treating the underlying condition helps restore an impaired sense of taste. This could range from just waiting a week to get over a cold to seeing an allergist or an Ear, Nose And Throat (ENT) specialist. Your healthcare professional can help you address any loss of your ability to taste that is caused by physical conditions or your prescription medications.  

If your ability to taste is fading as you grow older, now’s the time to try the foods you may have disliked when you were a kid with an overly sensitive palette. Re-taste those aged cheeses, salty olives, strong fish and other highly-flavored foods. Indulge in the darkest chocolate. You may rediscover a whole new world of food to enjoy.  

Your dentist can give you a treatment program to address dental issues that are affecting your ability to taste. Good oral hygiene – the basic twice daily brush and floss, and twice a year checkups/cleanings – can help keep your mouth healthy and free from the problems that can diminish your sense of taste.  

Can’t afford dental care?  

If you think you can’t afford professional care to help you get your sense of taste back, consider joining a dental savings plan, a trusted alternative to dental insurance. Plan members report an average saving of 50%* at the dentist. Plan members report saving an average of 50%* on their dental care.    

See how much you can save with a dental savings plan.

Use our calculator below >

And, unlike dental insurance, with a dental savings plan you don’t have to worry about deductibles, annual spending limits or waiting before you qualify for reduced rates. You can use your plan within 72 hours of joining to save on virtually all dental care, from checkups to root canals, crowns, bridges and dentures – many plans even include discounts on treatments like dental implants and cosmetic services that insurance rarely pays for.   

There are plans that fit every dental care need and budget. Want help choosing the dental savings plan that’s right for you? Give us a call at 1-833-735-0399 or use our calculator below for a quick look at how much you can save on virtually all your dental care.   

*Discount Health Program consumer and provider surveys indicate average savings of 50%. Savings may vary by provider, location, and plan.  

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