Q: Do your taste buds change as you age, and if so, why?
A: It is not uncommon for our sense of taste to change, or diminish, with time. This is due to many factors. As we age, the number of taste buds that we have decreases. This usually begins to occur in our 40s if we’re female or in our 50s if we’re male.
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At the same time, our remaining taste buds also begin to shrink, or atrophy, and do not function as well. This results in decreased sensitivity to taste, typically affecting salty or sweet, and eventually sour or bitter foods. Around the same time, our sense of smell may also start to decrease, which can contribute to the loss of taste.
—Oral surgeon Michael Horan, MD, DDS, PhD