The human tongue has as many as 8,000 taste buds which present as tiny structures with openings on the tongue surface which allow saliva dissolved food to pass through and interact with taste receptors. The proper name for these structures is papillae.
Swollen or enlarged taste buds are quite a common condition which is normally temporary and may have many causes.
What Causes Enlarged Taste Buds on Tongue?
The following are some of the reasons why you can get inflamed, irritated or enlarged taste buds on your tongue.
1.) Rubbing or biting – one of the most common causes for swollen taste buds is irritation or soreness caused by having bitten or scraped the tongue.
2.) Hot food – eating food while it is too hot will burn the taste buds and leave them inflamed.
3.) Spicy or acidic food – certain spices or highly acidic food and drink such as orange juice may irritate the taste buds and leave them enlarged. This can be made worse as the irritation may manifest as an itch on the tongue which we may ‘scratch’ against our teeth to relieve. This will only act to further irritate and inflame the taste buds.
4.) Allergies – this can be to a new toothpaste or oral hygiene product or may be something we’ve eaten. Additionally other bodily allergies can cause a reaction in the mouth such as swollen or enlarged taste buds.
5.) Tongue Infections – this may be in the form of an infection initiated in the taste bud through trapped food particles or poor oral hygiene or it may be an infection which has started elsewhere and spread its bacteria into the taste bud area. Yeast infections are a common cause of enlarged taste buds and at such time small white spots may appear on the tongue.
6.) Alcohol and tobacco – both of these will act as irritants and allow bacteria to form on the tongue.
7.) Nutritional deficiencies – poor diet or low levels of certain vitamins may cause taste bud swelling.
8.) Medication – if you have recently changed medication and have noticed a swollen tongue it may be due to a reaction to the medication.
9.) Acid reflux disease – this uncomfortable medical condition can cause irritation to the tongue and taste buds.
10.) Stress – some experts believe that stress can play a part in irritating the taste buds.
Natural Cures for Enlarged Taste Buds
As mentioned earlier most of the reasons for taste buds to become inflamed or swollen are due to temporary causes and will quickly pass. However, the condition can make eating a little painful and there are ways to ease the discomfort.
1.) Ice-cream, ice cubes, ice-cold drinks – these are all effective for bringing some relief where the tongue has been burned or reacted to food or drink. Sucking an ice-cube is particularly effective as it will slightly numb the tongue and bring longer lasting relief.
2.) Natural yogurt – this is good for restoring correct levels of healthy bacteria and can be used to combat fungal infections.
3.) Oil of Oregano – this little miracle cure has incredibly potent anti-fungal properties. Oregano oil is 100% natural and is a very versatile addition to your medicine cabinet as it has many, many health benefits.
4.) Baking Soda – many people claim that applying baking soda to the tongue will help to ease the discomfort of swollen taste buds.
5.) Tea-tree oil – this natural oil is not only soothing but has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties which will help to combat infections and conditions that cause swollen taste buds so try gargling with diluted tea-tree oil.
6.) Oral hygiene – greater care to oral hygiene may help to combat swollen taste buds. One trick is to place your toothpaste after use each time in a cup of boiling water to kill bacteria that lives on the brush and may reinfect your mouth.
If the problem of swollen or enlarged taste buds resists all of the above or continues over a longer period of time you will need to seek medical advice to determine the underlying cause for your condition.