How normal are taste problems with dentures?
Does wearing dentures have any affect on your sense of taste? The short term answer is yes, new denture wearers will likely experience some drop in the level of taste sensation in the beginning. Your mouth is going to go through an adjustment period while it gets used to the way the dentures feel. However, in time you should experience a return of normal taste sensation as in your pre-denture days. Let's take a look at how the sensation of taste works and how dentures can affect it.
The sensations of taste and smell are interrelated, that is , they work together as a team. There are four basic tastes that the nerve receptors in our nose, mouth and throat recognize; sweet, sour, bitter and salty. The nerve receptors in the nose, or olfactory system, are usually the first to report to the brain. That's why you can walk into a room, smell the air and say, "I smell chicken soup". You know what it is even before you have a chance to taste it, because your brain has an associative memory with odors, particularly strong ones. The only basic taste that the nose cannot identify is salty.
Most of the taste buds in your mouth are near the tip and around the edges of your tongue, but some are also in your throat and a few are located in the roof of your mouth. When food enters your mouth, the nerve receptors send a signal to the brain to order the production of saliva. As food is chewed, the tongue and teeth work to mash it together with the saliva, bringing out the taste. Working together with the smell receptors in your nose, all these cells report the data to your brain and the brain orders the chemical combinations that result in what we know as flavor.
This is where dentures come in. For now, we'll focus on the affect that full dentures, especially upper dentures have on our sense of taste.
A full standard upper denture has an acrylic plate that stretches across the roof of the mouth covering the palate, and therefore covering the small amount of taste buds located there, isolating them from the tasting process. The rest of the taste buds in the tip and edges of the tongue are now constantly in contact with the denture, tasting the denture plastic. No matter what you eat at first, the taste of the denture plastic will be reported to the brain, along with any other tastes detected.
The good news is that this is only noticeable in the short term. Eventually the taste buds and the brain will become accustomed to the constant report of the denture plastic taste, and like many things in life that we become used to and finally ignore, the denture taste will go away. Your nerve receptors will begin to concentrate more on the new items entering your mouth, and your taste senses will be focused on them, not your dentures.
So while denture wearers may have some initial concerns about how their dentures will affect their taste, dentures should really only bring a temporary change, your mouth will soon become accustomed to the dentures and things will return to nearly the normal level of your pre-denture days.
If your tasting troubles continue be sure to consult with your denturist. There are modifications that can be made to some types of dentures to lessen the area of the denture base and lower the amount of denture plastic.