Taste deficits related to dental deafferentation: an electrogustometric study in humans


Dr Marie-Violaine Berteretche, UFR d'Odontologie, 5, Rue Garancière, 75006 Paris, France
Telefax: +33–1−34652952
E-mail: berteretche.mv@wanadoo.fr


Dental treatments, the prevalence of which increases with age, can cause orofacial somatosensory deficits. In order to examine whether they may also affect taste sensitivity, electrogustometric thresholds were measured at 9 loci on the tongue surface in 391 healthy non-smoking, non-medicated subjects. Results showed that the greater the number of deafferented teeth, the higher the thresholds. Irrespective of age, subjects with more than 7 deafferented teeth exhibited significantly higher thresholds than subjects with fewer than 7 deafferented teeth. Conversely, across age groups, no statistical difference was observed among subjects with no, or few, deafferented teeth. Hence, a taste deficit, which was not correlated to aging, was observed. An association was noticed between the location of taste deficits and the location of deafferented teeth. Higher thresholds at anterior sites, with no possible traumatic injury relationship, suggested that neurophysiological convergence between dental somatosensory and taste pathways – possibly in the nucleus tractus solitarius – could be responsible for these relative decreases of taste sensitivity when dental afferences were lacking. Among trigeminal contributions, lingual nerve and inferior alveolar nerve may synergize taste.