Recently I underwent a wisdom tooth extraction, and while there is still numbness I have observed something peculiar. If I drink cold water, it tastes sour, however the same effect is not observed with room temperature water or hotter. What is causing this effect?

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting question , this reminds me of miraculin which makes us perceive sour as sweet. Maybe something like that is happening in your case. $\endgroup$ – JM97 Sep 3 '17 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ My guess (hence not an answer) is that the regional block also affected your tongue and taste buds; signals might just have gotten crossed. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Sep 3 '17 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ An interesting effect to note is that distilled water tastes very sweet. $\endgroup$ – Skyler Sep 7 '17 at 2:28

Here is an educated guess: firstly the typical dental anesthetic is lidocaine which tastes very bitter. Secondly, a bitter taste if often misclassified as sour. Thirdly, sensory thresholds (the amount of a compound required to detect its taste) is temperature dependent and lower at cooler temperatures. In other words, I assume that drinking cold water made you able to detect small remaining traces of bitter lidocaine that were too small to detect at warmer temperatures, and that you misclassified as sour.

Wei, Y., Nedley, M. P., Bhaduri, S. B., Bredzinski, X., & Boddu, S. H. (2015). Masking the bitter taste of injectable lidocaine HCl formulation for dental procedures. AAPS PharmSciTech, 16(2), 455-465.


McBurney, D. H., Collings, V. B., & Glanz, L. M. (1973). Temperature dependence of human taste responses. Physiology & Behavior, 11(1), 89-94.

  • $\begingroup$ what type of time interval might you expect that persistence. This question was asked roughly 2 months after the extraction i believe $\endgroup$ – Skyler Apr 9 '20 at 3:07
  • $\begingroup$ Hum, ok. Then definitely not remaining traces of lidocaine. I assumed it was few hours after extraction. $\endgroup$ – user37022 Apr 9 '20 at 3:28

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