Have you ever wondered what those tiny spots on your tongue are? Taste Buds!
You have several thousand taste buds. Taste buds are actually tiny nerve endings (sensitive places on your tongue) that allow us to perceive different tastes, including:
- Salty (i.e. french fries, peanuts)
- Sweet (i.e. cotton candy, strawberries)
- Sour (i.e. shock tarts, lemons)
- Bitter (i.e. black licorice, radishes)
- Umami (a specific taste in meat)
Another part of taste is smell. With smell alone you can often tell the difference in foods or drinks (like when you wake up and your mom is cooking breakfast). Without smell it can be difficult to distinguish between different tastes. You may notice this when you have a cold or stuffy nose and food doesn't taste normal.
As you get older you tend to lose taste buds and your sense of taste is weakened. Taste buds can be dulled or even hurt if they are irritated by extreme heat or cold, infections, a dry mouth, smoking, spicy foods, extremely sour foods, and some medications. Some people are sensitive to a particular food, such as walnuts, which may cause soreness in their mouth.
Fortunately, damaged taste buds can heal, so your sense of taste is not lost.