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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Loss of Taste

10/26/2011

Question:

I lost my sense of taste 2 months ago. It happened within 2 days starting mildly with some foods tasting odd to not being able to taste anything normally. Medications, Previous Med Conditions, and normal causes for lost of taste ruled out. No other symptoms. IM and ENT doctors examined and don`t know why it has happened. Brushing my teeth or using a mouth rinse does not help. I have a constant salty sour milk taste in my mouth. I can smell just fine and when I burb I can taste the food I ate up in my nose as how it should taste. I cannot eat/drink anything sweet because it has a metal taste to it. Food does not taste normal. I have lost a lot of weight. My questions are (1) do you have experience with this? (2) What may be some irregular causes for it?

Answer:

Based on what you are telling me, this may be a condition known as burning mouth syndrome (BMS). Even though it's called BMS, it really should be called "oral sensory neuropathy", which means that the nerves that transmit information to the brain about the sensations in the mouth just aren't working right. Nerves that carry information about pain, taste and/or texture can be affected, and it seems to occur more frequently in peri- and post-menopausal women.

When the nerves that carry taste information are affected, patients may complain of "taste phantoms", which are perceived as a bitter, salty, metallic or sweet taste in the mouth, even though there isn't anything in the mouth that would taste like that. This is a harmless, but annoying, problem that has no proven treatment, but many patients get better spontaneously.

More information can be found at the links below.

Burning Mouth Syndrome
Burning Mouth Syndrome (AAOMP)

Best wishes.

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University