Sore Taste Buds

Why Do You Have Sore Taste Buds?


There are many reasons why you may have sore taste buds. The tongue is a very sensitive muscle that is susceptible to a wide array of problems and ailments. For most people having sore taste buds is the result of a simple condition, usually relating to the type or temperature of what they subject their tongue to, but some serious conditions that may affect the taste buds also exist. It is important to recognize the causes of taste bud problems to make sure the soreness you feel in your mouth is really from that food and not a serious problem.


The tongue is made up of groups of muscles and has several practical functions. It manipulates food for chewing and swallowing, allows us to talk, used for kissing or other facial gestures and contains taste buds that allow us to distinguish thousands of flavors. The small bumps that cover your tongue are called papillae. Three types of different shaped papillae contain taste buds; these are circumvallate, folicate and fungiform papillae. There are no actual portions of the tongue that contain specific taste buds for specific tastes; instead the entire tongue is covered with the taste buds that allow us to taste the five senses: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and savory. In a healthy and problem free tongue; these papillae should appear to be small and pink in color.


Several aliments can directly affect taste buds and cause them to feel sore. The first and most common are caused by high temperature foods or liquids. Everyone has burned their tongue at one point or another, and while this is painful and annoying, the tongue usually heals very quickly. Severe burns or burning resulting from getting any kind of chemical into your mouth should be should be checked out by a doctor. Specific types of foods may irritate your taste buds as well and should be avoided in the future. Often these foods are high in sugar, acid or salt or may be spicy. Again this type of soreness should resolve itself in a few days. Biting or cutting your tongue can also cause problems with taste buds, as infections may set in. If infections of the taste buds so not clear up on their own, a doctor may prescribe some medication.


One particularly unpleasant infliction that affects the taste buds and causes them to become sore is referred to as black tongue. The papillae on the tongue can harbor bacteria and if they become infected the taste buds take on a hairy and black appearance. While this is unattractive and creates an uncomfortable sensation of the taste buds, it is an easy condition to treat and is not serious. A condition called Geographic tongue occurs when patterns of red spots appear on the tongue and the taste buds become inflamed and sore. This is due to the failiform papillae disappearing and leaving red spots behind. While the cause of this condition is unknown, it is not serious and will go away on its own. The taste buds are also susceptible to fungal infections that can cause pain and soreness to develop. Anti-fungal medications are useful treatments for this type of ailment.


Sore taste buds that appear to be white in color or have lumps attached to them may be a sign of Leukoplakia, a precursor to cancer. White spots on the tongue that may irritate the taste buds may also be a bacterial infection known as oral thrush. Oral thrush is caused by an overgrowth of Candida bacteria and is easily treatable.


The tongue has a large supply of blood flow through its many arteries and veins, making it a muscle that heals itself quickly. For anyone ever suffering from sore taste buds, this is a blessing. Besides being annoying and uncomfortable, tongue soreness can interfere with eating, sleeping and talking. If tongue problems do not resolve themselves in a few days, you may wish to consider visiting your doctor.