More Smiles Dental Spa Dentistry Blog | James A. Moreau, Jr., D.D.S.

Monday, March 09, 2009

What Happens When You Burn Your Tongue on Hot Food

Jake Ward from Popular Science magazine was just in a segment on "Food Detectives" on the Food Network, explaining what happens when you burn your tongue on a sip of hot coffee...or a piece of hot pizza.

The tongue has thousands of taste buds on the surface and sides of the tongue. Each taste bud pore has clusters of taste receptor cells below the surface. Picture an onion bulb below the ground's surface. The younger cells, basal cells are down at the bottom of the cluster. Over a 10-day period, the basal cells are constantly regenerating and maturing, moving from the bottom to the top of the taste bud. Once a cell makes it to the top of the taste bud, at the pore, it only lives for a few hours before being shed and washed away by saliva, making room for new ones moving up from the bottom.

When you burn your tongue on hot food, you are killing that top layer of cells. So, the good news is that the scorched tongue will not last long because the rich blood supply to the tongue makes it one of the fastest healing parts of the body--2 times faster than any other body part. More good news: repeated burns does not disable the taste buds. They are forgiving and will continue to heal quickly every single time you eat something hot.

To relieve the temporary pain caused by these burns, Jake suggested sugar, an ice cube, a popsicle or the anti-inflammatory properties of camomile tea.

posted by MoreSmiles at 8:19 AM

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