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Call Us (516) 764-7333 

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What Causes Swollen Taste Buds?

Your taste buds are your window into the wonderful world of delicious foods, flavors, and sweets. But what happens when you have a swollen taste bud, and it is uncomfortable to eat and drink? Today, we will cover the potential causes of painful taste buds and your treatment options.

What Exactly Are Taste Buds?


Did you know taste buds are considered an organ? Yes, those small, sensitive bumps on your tongue are what allow you to taste big flavors like sour, salty, bitter, and sweet. While you have thousands of them on your tongue, it only takes one swollen taste bud to make you pretty uncomfortable.

What Causes Swollen Taste Buds?


Were you sipping a hot coffee when you suddenly burned your tongue? Or maybe you accidentally took a bite of something extremely cold that gave you more than just goosebumps? Just like any other organ in your body, the taste buds (or papillae) on your tongue are sensitive and can be prone to irritation and infection.

If your taste buds hurt, here are some possible causes:


  • Acid reflux
  • Dry mouth
  • Burns from extreme temperature foods/drinks
  • Ingestion of spicy foods
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Infection or illness
  • Bad dental hygiene
  • Smoking
  • Acidic medications
  • Oral cancer


How Can You Tell If You Have Taste Bud Swelling?


What Causes Swollen Taste Buds?, drbrattrvc.com


Inflamed taste buds look like small, red, round bumps on the tongue. However, an inflamed taste buds tongue can appear white or contain blisters. If you are concerned about a particularly large taste bud, visiting a highly reputable dentistry office might be a good idea. The doctor will take a careful look at your oral health and help you figure out what causes swollen taste buds in your mouth. A dentist will also confirm that your painful taste bud isn’t something more serious like oral cancer.

How Do You Treat Enlarged Papillae?


Inflamed, swollen taste buds typically have a good prognosis. (Taste buds medically are pretty common!)

Swollen taste bud treatment is relatively easy. Try these remedies below to treat swollen taste buds:


  • Rinse with salty water. With its natural antibacterial properties, salt is nature’s way of cleaning wounds homeopathically. Several times a day, gargling with salt water can often help clear up inflamed swollen taste buds and speed up the recovery process. If the problem persists, you can also ask your dentist if they recommend a special antibiotic rinse to help clear things up.
  • Apply ice. Ice will be your new best friend if you are looking for another natural home remedy for taste bud swelling. Just suck on an ice cube to help reduce swelling and relieve discomfort from the inflamed taste buds.
  • Avoid spicy and scorching hot foods. Swollen taste buds on the tongue can be exacerbated by heavily seasoned food and extreme temperatures. Try to stay away from these types of foods until your mouth heals.
  • Steer clear of brushing your tongue. While brushing your tongue is an excellent dental hygiene practice, you will want to avoid this action while you have inflamed taste buds. Brushing the enlarged taste bud will only make the problem worse.
  • Stop smoking. Not only are cigarettes terrible for your overall health, but they can also further irritate an inflamed taste bud. Try to hold off smoking to help your swollen taste buds on the tongue heal. This is also a good time to consider fully quitting cigarette smoking and doing something great for your health!
  • Get sweet relief. If dry mouth is the cause of your taste bud swelling, ask your dentist if you can get a special mouth rinse and toothpaste to help alleviate some of these symptoms.

We recommend consulting your dentist for medical advice about your specific swollen taste bud treatment.

How Can Patients Prevent Inflamed Taste Buds?


What Causes Swollen Taste Buds?, drbrattrvc.com


What is the best way to stop swollen taste buds? To prevent them in the first place! Below are some tips and tricks to avoid swollen taste buds on the tongue:


  • Take the heat down. Turn down the temperature and spice level on your food. If you notice your taste buds swell when you eat spicy food, try to stick to more subdued flavors to help your swollen taste bud treatment.
  • Drink up! Drinking lots of water will help your body naturally flush out infection and help prevent irritated taste buds that are caused by dehydration. If you have trouble drinking plain water, try adding lemon, cucumber, berries, mint, basil, or other natural flavorings to keep it interesting and encourage you to down that H20!
  • Make it naturally sweet. Honey is more than just delicious – did you know that it also has many antibacterial properties that can help reduce inflammation and infection? To help heal the infection, put a dab of honey on the swollen taste buds. If the irritation is more widespread, you can gargle a mixture of honey and water to help soothe your mouth. Including honey in small quantities in your diet is also a great way to introduce more antioxidants and reduce inflammation in your system.
  • Be a pro at probiotics. Did you know your gut health affects the rest of your body, helps keep everything in balance, and can prevent infection? Try taking a daily probiotic and choosing foods like yogurt, kefir, and kombucha to help keep your system healthy!
  • Take your vitamins: Did you know that low levels of vitamins like iron and Vitamin B can occasionally cause your tongue to swell? To ensure you have sufficient levels of these two vitamins, try taking a supplement and loading up on legumes, spinach, tofu, and red meat for iron-rich food. You’ll also find high levels of vitamin B in salmon, leafy greens, eggs, and milk.

Who Can Treat A Swollen Taste Bud?


There’s no sugar coating it – swollen taste buds can be uncomfortable and even painful! Luckily, inflamed swollen taste buds are easy to treat and often go away on their own with time.

Usually, infected taste buds clear up within about a week, but occasionally, they take longer to heal. If you are dealing with a taste bud that is being particularly stubborn about treatment, consult your dentist for additional remedies and treatments. Your dentist will also check and make sure the swollen taste bud isn’t something more serious. Hopefully, with some care and TLC, you can easily treat swollen taste buds and be back at it in no time!

If you live in Rockville Centre, NY, and are experiencing swollen taste buds or other dental discomforts, schedule an appointment with Dr. Bratt and our caring team of dental specialists. We’re experienced, thorough, and compassionate in dental care for the whole family.



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Dr Joshua Bratt

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