Perhaps you’ve caught an episode of the Bizarre Foods, a Travel Channel favorite in which host Andrew Zimmern travels around the world eating things that you won’t find on the menu of your favorite fast food joint.
Sea squirts, cow skin soup, jellyfish--foods most of us will never have the dubious pleasure of tasting.
You can’t help but admire Zimmern’s ability to remain objective and open-minded about what most would consider a full assault on our tastebuds.
This brings up an interesting question: What role do your tongue and taste buds have in maintaining oral health? Dr. Janice Spada, a general dentist near Boston, MA takes a closer look.
Is poor hygiene to blame for the bad taste in your mouth?
It’s possible, says Dr. Spada, especially if you don’t brush as often or as effectively--two minutes at a time, twice daily--as you should. Food particles and bacteria become trapped between teeth, near the gums, and in the folds of your tongue, emitting foul sulfur compounds. Tongue scraping is a simple way to remove more of these substances compared to brushing and flossing alone.
A perpetual sour, metallic, or bitter taste in your mouth may be a symptom of periodontal disease, an infection that attacks your gum tissue and the underlying tissue and bone.
The taste may subside immediately after you brush your teeth, only to return within an hour or two. Other symptoms pointing to gum disease include red, puffy gums that bleed when you brush or floss, bad breath, and teeth that are loose or have shifted out of position.
Without treatment, periodontal disease results in tooth loss and loss of bone in your jaw; with treatment, many of these symptoms subside or disappear altogether within a few weeks. Not all oral health-related causes of dysgeusia are the result of poor hygiene. A fungal infection or abscess could also cause this unpleasant symptom.
Could a medical condition or medication cause a taste disorder?
Several medical conditions can affect your ability to taste, as can medications prescribed to treat the condition. Health-related causes of taste disorders include head injuries, radiation treatment for cancer, and infections of the middle ear and upper respiratory system.
The effect is usually temporary, albeit disconcerting. Because the taste and olfactory senses are so closely linked, it can be difficult to determine which is to blame, if not both.
Dozens of antihistamines, antibiotics, and heart medications list dysgeusia as a potential side effect.
If you ever have an opportunity and desire to eat a sea squirt, consider yourself warned:. According to Zimmern, you can expect a pervasive iodine flavor that lasts several hours afterward.
Have you noticed a change in taste recently? To learn more about our services, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Janice Spada, contact us at (978) 443-3111. We welcome patients living in Sudbury, Boston, Worcester, Marlborough Framingham, and the surrounding suburbs.