COVID-19 induced taste dysfunction and recovery: association with smell dysfunction and oral health behaviour

Georgia Catton, Alexander Gardner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Objectives

Disruption to taste and smell are common symptoms of COVID-19 infection. The current literature overlooks taste symptoms and tends to focus on the sense of smell. Persisting cases (>28 days) of taste dysfunction are increasingly recognised as a major future healthcare challenge. This study focuses on the severity and recovery of COVID-19 induced taste loss and association with olfactory symptoms, lifestyle and oral health factors.

Materials and Methods

This study was a cross-sectional survey comparing 182 rapid taste recovery participants (≤28 days) with 47 participants with prolonged taste recovery >28 days. Analyses of taste loss in association with smell loss, age, sex, illness severity, diet, BMI, vitamin-D supplementation, antidepressants, alcohol use, smoking, brushing frequency, flossing, missing teeth, appliances and number of dental restorations were conducted. Differences in the severity of the loss of sour, sweet, salt, bitter and umami tastes were explored.


Both the severity and the duration of taste and smell loss were closely correlated (p < 0.001). Salt taste was significantly less affected than all other taste qualities (p < 0.001). Persisting taste loss was associated with older age (mean ± 95% CI = 31.73 ± 1.23 years vs. 36.66 ± 3.59 years, p < 0.001) and reduced likelihood of using floss (odds ratio ± 95% CI = 2.22 (1.15−4.25), p = 0.047).


Smell and taste loss in COVID-19 are closely related, although a minority of individuals can experience taste or smell dysfunction in the absence of the other. The taste of salt may be less severely affected than other taste qualities and future work exploring this finding objectively is indicated. The association of flossing with rapid taste recovery adds to the growing evidence of a link between good periodontal health and favourable COVID-19 outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number715
Number of pages13
JournalMedicina (Kaunas, Lithuania)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2022


  • Ageusia
  • Anosmia
  • COVID-19/complications
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Olfaction Disorders/diagnosis
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Taste Disorders/diagnosis
  • Vitamin D
  • Covid-19
  • Taste dysfunction
  • Oral health
  • Dental care


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