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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Taste hyposensitivity in Japanese schoolchildren

Mari Ohnuki, Masayuki Ueno*, Takashi Zaitsu and Yoko Kawaguchi

Author Affiliations

Department of Oral Health Promotion, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan

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BMC Oral Health 2014, 14:36  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-14-36

Published: 11 April 2014



There is some research on taste disorder/hyposensitivity in special groups such as the elderly or patients presenting with specific taste problems, however few studies have been conducted among young populations. The objectives of this study were to estimate the prevalence of taste hyposensitivity and to investigate the relationship between taste hyposensitivity and oral health status in Japanese schoolchildren.


Subjects were 237 primary and 112 junior high school students in Saitama Prefecture, Japan. In total, 349 (boys: 181, girls: 168) students aged 6–15 years participated in the study. Oral examinations and whole-mouth taste tests using four tastes (sweet, salt, sour and bitter) solutions were conducted on the subjects. A subject who could not recognize the taste of the solution was defined as demonstrating hyposensitivity.


Hyposensitivity was observed in 6.3% of all subjects for sweet-taste, 14.3% for salt-taste, 20.9% for sour-taste and 6.0% for bitter-taste. The prevalence of sweet, sour and bitter-taste hyposensitivity decreased as the subjects’ grade advanced. In contrast, the prevalence of salt-taste hyposensitivity increased in 7th-9th grade subjects. Furthermore, the prevalence of bitter-taste hyposensitivity was significantly higher in males than females among 1st-3rd graders.

Taste hyposensitivity had little association with oral health status, such as decayed teeth, filled teeth, dental plaque, gingival status and tongue coating.


In this study, taste hyposensitivity was observed in 6.0%-20.9% of the students. There was little association between taste hyposensitivity and oral health status. The current study implies that the factors affecting the taste hyposensitivity in children may different from those in the elderly. Therefore it is necessary to further investigate the causes of taste hyposensitivity among younger generation.

Taste hyposensitivity; Schoolchildren; Taste test; Oral health status