Oral Diseases (2010) 16, 221–232
Practitioners of oral medicine frequently encounter patients with complaints of taste disturbance. While some such complaints represent pathological processes specific to the gustatory system, per se, this is rarely the case. Unless taste-bud mediated qualities such as sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami, chalky, or metallic are involved, ‘taste’ dysfunction inevitably reflects damage to the sense of smell. Such ‘taste’ sensations as chicken, chocolate, coffee, raspberry, steak sauce, pizza, and hamburger are dependent upon stimulation of the olfactory receptors via the nasopharynx during deglutition. In this paper, we briefly review the anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology of the olfactory system, along with means for clinically assessing its function. The prevalence, etiology, and nature of olfactory disorders commonly encountered in the dental clinic are addressed, along with approaches to therapy and patient management.