Altered taste

Some people with facial palsy report a metallic taste which interferes with the pleasure of eating.  There are also anecdotal reports of loss of taste which leads to loss of appetite or foods previously enjoyed no longer tasting the same.  Normal taste does return in the majority of people but can take many weeks and months.


The chorda tympani is a branch of the facial nerve.  The chorda tympani, along with other nerves, is responsible for carrying information about taste from the taste buds, on the front of the tongue, to the brain.  When there is damage to the chorda tympani, this alters taste sensation.


The chorda tympani does not detect all tastes, just certain flavours.  It detects saltiness more than any other flavour.

The chorda tympani also has an inhibitory function and can interfere with the production of saliva causing a dry mouth on the affected side.  Saliva is responsible for spreading microscopic food particles over the tongue and so stimulates our sense of taste.  This may contribute to symptoms of loss or altered taste.

What can help?

  • Good dental hygiene
  • Saliva substitutes, for example, artificial saliva gels and sprays
  • Special lozenges which stimulate salivation, for example, Salivix
  • Drinking plenty of water and avoiding salty foods
  • Avoid chewing gum. Whilst the action of chewing helps stimulate saliva production, frequent use of chewing gum may facilitate the development of more severe synkinesis.  Using chewing gum to aid saliva production in people with facial palsy is generally not recommended.

Read more

Anatomy of the facial nerve

Dental hygiene

Dry mouth 

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash