Evaluation of some factors affecting taste perception in elderly people
There are many physiological changes in elderly people that affect the quality of life. One of these
changes takes place in sensory organs, which also have manifestations in the oral cavity. Alteration
in taste perception is very important since it influences dietary habits and general health. Here we
investigated the effects of some factors on gustatory function – such as gender, smoking, denture use
and dietary habits with respect to spicy food consumption – in a group of elderly people. 18 elderly
subjects (mean age 65.1) were included in the study and whole-mouth, above threshold test and a
spatial (localized) taste tests were performed using four basic tastes (sweet, salt, sour and bitter).
There were no statistically significant differences in the threshold for four basic tastes considering
the investigated parameters. However, for the spatial test, male subjects had significantly impaired
palatal perception for sour and salty tastes and denture users had significantly enhanced palatal
perception for sour taste.
The results of this study showed impairment of taste perception in elderly people concerning gender
and denture use. We suggest further studies to investigate the effects of different factors on gustatory
function in the elderly.