Contrary to popular belief, taste buds do not actually die. When you burn your tongue by drinking too-hot coffee, for example, it is the cells in the bud that turn red and become desensitized, not the taste bud itself. Luckily, taste bud cells are recycled within a period of about 12 days, so damaged cells are quick to disappear and be replaced with new, fully-functional taste receptors. Knowing you will get your sense of taste back soon may not be the best comfort to someone who just burned her tongue, but some methods soothe damaged taste bud cells in the meantime.
Apply ice cubes to the damaged part of your tongue. This temporarily soothes the taste bud cells and gives you some pain relief. You can use full ice cubes or crushed ice for this. Place the ice into a plastic baggy and hold the bag over the burned part of your tongue for as long as desired. Alternately, skip the plastic bag and allow bare ice cubes to melt on your tongue.
Treat yourself to ice cream or popsicles. Cold treats like these continue to soothe damaged taste buds, particularly if you burned them by consuming something extremely hot. Allow the ice cream or popsicles to linger on your tongue so the coldness can seep in for maximum benefit.
Allow your tongue to heal. You may have to deal with lack of sensation when you eat for a few days to a week, but damaged taste bud cells disappear within two weeks. Continue applying ice cubes and cold treats to your tongue as desired until you regain full sensation from your taste buds.
Stay away from spicy or acidic foods until your taste bud cells regenerate. These types of food can irritate damage to the taste buds and cause discomfort. Let hot foods cool sufficiently before eating, to prevent further damage.