Dr. Todd Sheppard Blog

The effects of smoking on your taste buds

Taste buds are responsible for conveying sweet, sour, bitter, salty and metallic sensations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the responsibilities of the taste

system include:

  • Triggering digestive systems that change secretions of saliva, stomach acid and pancreatic juices
  • Enhancing feelings of pleasure and satiety when eating
  • Determining quality of foods and determining “good” tasting foods from “bad” ones, which could have potential toxins.

A person’s ability to recognize salty, sweet or sour tastes isn’t drastically affected if they are a

smoker, but it does change in the case of coffee. Research suggests that those who smoke cannot

taste the bitterness in coffee.

While bitter receptors in the tongue are normally able to detect this sensation in even low

concentrations, nearly 20% of smokers are not able to correctly identify the taste.

Doctors believe the accumulation of some tobacco products in the body could impede taste buds

regenerating, which could still affect a person’s ability to recognize certain tastes after they have quit


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