If you’ve been vaping for a while, you may have already experienced vaper’s tongue without knowing exactly what it is. To put it simply, vaper’s tongue is a condition where a vaper will unexpectedly and without warning loose the ability to taste vape juice for a period of time. This condition typically lasts for 1-3 days, but some severe cases can last up to a week. While this may sound like a particularly detrimental condition, vaper’s tongue really only affects the user’s ability to taste certain e-liquids and will not cause any long term negative effects.
The term, vaper’s tongue, first gained popularity after many vapers noticed their tongues would suddenly feel like a thick coating had enveloped their taste buds and blocked the ability to discern flavours from certain e-liquids. While this does not affect the body’s ability to absorb nicotine, it can greatly affect a person’s enjoyment when vaping. In this article, we’ll look at the various causes of vaper’s tongue and some solutions to avoid this annoying condition.
Why vaper’s tongue occurs
Human beings generally have anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 taste buds in their mouth which regenerate every ten days. Your sense of taste, also known as your gustatory sense, does require saliva to work properly, and this is where the issue of vaper’s tongue begins. As many experienced vapers know, vaping can cause a dry mouth and this absence of saliva makes it harder for our tongue to detect, analyze, and discern flavour.
While a lack of salvia plays a large role in vaper’s tongue, the condition can also be caused by a vaper’s sense of smell, known scientifically as the olfactory sense. In the human body, our sense of taste works in tandem with the ability to smell, so much so that our olfactory sense accounts for 70% of perceived flavour. While taste buds can only identify five tastes: sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami, our ability to smell helps distinguish more intricate parts of the things we taste. Without our sense of smell, the flavour of a sweet apple would be almost identical to a sweet pear, if the texture was not being considered. Since vaping has no texture to speak of, the main identifying characteristics of an e-juice are taste and aroma. This is where vaper’s tongue comes into play. As countless experiments prove, the olfactory sense can lose its perception to an aroma the longer it’s exposed to it.
The final cause of vaper’s tongue isn’t actually caused by vaping but is often linked to an issue with smoking. People who smoke, or have recently quit, will often have hindered taste buds, as smoking tends to wreak havoc on oral health. Luckily, smokers who quit will eventually recover their sense of taste over time, though there is no specific time frame in which this will occur.
Getting rid of vaper’s tongue
- Stay hydrated: Drinking more water is not only essential for overall health but can also help you get the most flavour out of your vape. Increasing water consumption, especially if you’re vaping often, will help combat dry mouth and will ensure your saliva is kept at a normal amount to fuel your taste buds.
- Cut back on alcohol and caffeine: While these beverages do contain a certain level of water, both alcohol and caffeine can dry out the mouth on contact, and are officially classified as a diuretic. This means they will cause you to urinate more and lose more liquids. This can, of course, lead to dehydration, which will cause vaper’s tongue, and is in your best interest to limit the consumption of these two drugs.
- Take advantage of oral hydration products: Products like Biotene work as oral hygiene products and work to temporarily cure dry mouth. These products come in a variety of forms, including mouthwash, spray, toothpaste, and an overnight gel. Unlike oral cleansing products, such as mouthwash and breath sprays, Biotene does not contain alcohol and instead uses PG and VG, like e-liquids.
- Keep a clean tongue: Brushing your tongue, or using a specialized cleaning instrument, is an easy and effective way to ensure you’re getting the optimal flavour from your vape. Specialized tongue scrapers are ideal for this and work well to remove the film that collects on your tongue after a day of vaping, eating, and drinking.
- Quit smoking: One of the best things you can do for your health, and the overall quality of your vaping experience, is to quit smoking. This task is easier said than done, but with commitment and perseverance you can cut the habit out and greatly benefit your ability to taste in a positive way.
- Take longer breaks in-between vapes: If you’re a serial chain vaper, you’re going to take a serious toll on your ability to taste and smell certain e-liquids. If you find that you’re chain vaping quite a bit, it may be worth looking into high nicotine e-juices so you can satisfy your cravings for longer periods. If you aren’t interested in upping your nicotine amounts, it would be best to exercise a sense of self-control and take longer breaks between your vaping sessions.
- Switch vape juices: This is by far one of the easiest solutions to vaper’s tongue and is quite effective in maintaining the overall quality of a person’s vaping experience. Because the olfactory sense can only be tuned to a single aroma for so long, changing e-liquids will help fight flavour fatigue and ensure you can taste the nuances of your vape juices. This also presents vapers with an opportunity to experiment with a variety of flavours they may not have automatically gravitated towards.
- Try menthol or cooling flavours: Even if you aren’t into menthol flavours, using e-liquids with menthol might be exactly what you need. Menthol itself does not have a smell or taste but instead activates thermoreceptors, which is why you can feel it in your eyes or on your skin. In addition to this effect, menthol and cooling flavours can help reset your taste buds and offers a unique change from fruity and dessert flavours.
- Use unflavoured e-liquids: Vaping an unflavoured base is a clever way to get over vaper’s tongue and is not as unpleasant as it may seem. In terms of taste, unflavoured e-liquids don’t have much at all — save for a slight sweetness — so you won’t have to worry about any unpleasant or overly bland flavour.
What if my vaper’s tongue persists?
As mentioned before, vaper’s tongue should only last for three days to a week. However, if the condition persists, and you’ve tried all the above methods, there could be a more serious underlying issue. If this is the case, please contact a medical professional immediately and be sure to mention your vaping habits when discussing the condition.
It should also be noted that certain medications and prescription drugs can cause dry mouth as a common side effect. Some of the medications are used to treat depression, anxiety, allergies, colds, and many more. In this case, consult with the doctor that prescribed these drugs and explain the problem to them.