You hear the timer go off. After hurrying to the oven, you take the pizza out and are so anxious to inhale the pepperoni deluxe that you burn your whole mouth. We've all been there - from drinking hot coffee to sipping soup too quickly. Most of us admit that this lapse in rational thinking is often caused by the impulse to eat or simply a lack of patience, and it ends up costing us our taste buds for the next week. Underestimating the temperature of steaming foods or liquids can often burn your tongue, as well as other areas of the mouth. We'll look at what it does to your taste buds and how it affects your mouth as a whole.
Pizza is a big trigger of burns. Known for their 'za-filled diet, college students likely understand this all too well. On winter nights, chugging hot chocolate may strip taste buds as well. While a mild burn of the tongue will heal, serious burns require medical attention.
By eating hot foods too quickly, we scorch the roofs of our mouths, damaging existing cuts or canker sores. The marinara sauce in pizza can be a particular doozy for the tiny ulcers, since its high acidic content irritates the open cut. Keep your mouth and tongue clear of burn spots and canker sores by giving your food a moment to cool off.
Diving into taste buds
Fascinatingly, our taste buds are not only located on the tongue. They're spread out from the roof of your mouth to the throat as well as the stomach.
"Sweet receptors, traditionally associated with just the mouth, were in the gut and essentially 'tasting' the sugar a second time," Anthony Sclafani, a behavioral neuroscientist at the City University of New York, told Nature. These receptors trigger a glucose transport in the cells and bloodstream, which affects how quickly insulin is released. "It's an incredibly important finding for the control of blood sugar," he went on.
Contrary to popular belief, you can't see your taste buds. Those tiny bumps on your tongue are not the receptors themselves.
"Those round projections are called fungiform papillae and each has an average of six taste buds buried inside its surface tissue," Dr. Linda Bartoshuk, director of human research at the University of Florida Center for Smell and Taste, explained to Woman's Day.
However, most of the time, you can see where you have singed your tongue. The bright red spot when you say "ahh" is where the hot substance has ruined your taste buds. Fortunately, they grow right back, which means that in the long run you won't lose one of your five senses. It's also why the ability to taste does not diminish with age.
On average, our taste buds have constant regenerating power. Their normal life cycle ranges from 10 days to two weeks, Bartoshuk told the source.
Burning tongue syndrome
Besides singeing your tongue on hot substances, there is a condition that makes you feel a sensation of burning without eating or drinking steaming food and drink at all. According to the Mayo Clinic, two types of burning tongue syndrome exist: primary and secondary. Primary burning mouth syndrome occurs with no known cause. The secondary burning mouth syndrome is likely caused by a medical condition, such as dry mouth or allergies.
Although burning mouth syndrome can affect anyone, it most commonly occurs in middle-aged women. The tricky part is that many people have trouble pinpointing the exact cause of the condition. Looking at hormonal changes, prescription and over-the-counter medicines that result in dry mouth and nutritional deficiencies may help you hone in on what's bothering you.