When I tell people I have had 1/3 of my tongue reconstructed, the treatment for late stage oral cancer, the first question they ask is if I can taste everything. fortunately, taste is bilateral so I taste everything on the one side. Ed Merrell who has had his entire tongue removed, says there are taste buds in the little bit of tongue tissue left in his mouth; plus he believes he can taste from the tissue around the area of the tongue. This article from the NYTimes, states the taste buds receptors aren’t only in the mouth, but in the intestines! In fact, the common list for taste – sweet, salty, bitter, sour – has been expanded to include savory, metallic, soapy and alkaline. Our tongues identify fatty by the gooey texture and rancid by the immediate revulsion.
Mostly, the tongue articulates our speech and controls our ability to enjoy social situations. Cancer of the tongue can be devastating. Be sure you are getting an oral cancer screening at each and every dental check-up. Your dental professionals should be expert at examining the soft tissue in your mouth, and there is far more area of soft tissue than there are teeth. And, what may I ask protects your teeth? All the soft tissue that surrounds them!