Current Understanding of Salivary Flow Rate Relationship with Taste Function

Julia Y. Jeong

Jeong, Julia Y.1
Faculty / Advisor: Doty, Richard L.2
1University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Smell and Taste Center
2University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Smell and Taste Center


Abnormal salivary flow and xerostomia are common conditions that manifest due to a multitude of systemic and local factors. Hyposalivation affects oral health, normal function, and namely taste. As alterations in taste can impact quality of life, it is important to investigate the role of salivary flow in taste function.


This paper’s objective was to compile published research on the effect of salivary flow on taste as measured by electrogustometry and taste strip tests.


Current experimental studies showed contradicting results regarding how saliva affected taste function. Evidence showed that although patients with reduced salivary flow performed worse in electrogustometry and taste strip tests, oral dryness was not a good indicator of gustatory test performance. In contrast, other evidence showed that saliva does play a role in taste perception and that increased saliva may dilute tastes and worsen taste function. There was also contradicting evidence on the correlation between electrogustometry thresholds and taste strip test.


Due to contradicting results, larger scale clinical studies which quantify salivary flow rate are needed to further clarify the role of saliva in taste perception. Standardization of gustatory assessments may also be needed to accurately evaluate taste function.