Gary S. Rafal, D.D.S.
Smell And Taste
The taste buds on your tongue can detect only basic sensations and need the help of odors that pass through the back of the throat into the nose. There, delicate hair-like structures at the upper, inner ends of the nasal passage can recognize thousands of different odors which clarify and enhance taste. Taste and smell become less acute with age, allergies, nasal polyps, recurrent infections, and some medications. The fragile organs for smell are easily damaged by air polluted with tobacco or industrial smoke, so taste is affected as well.
Test your taste by using cotton swabs, applying sugar, lemon juice, salt and quinine water to the tongue, rinsing with water between each test. You should be able to easily identify sweet, sour, salty, or bitter. Different areas of the tongue are more sensitive to each of the four basic tastes. The tip registers sweet better, the lateral margins register sour, the lateral margins in the back register salty, and the mid-area at the back of the tongue registers bitter.