Background: Taste loss is a significant problem in older adults, affecting quality of life and nutrition. Altered salivary rheology and loss of mucin function may contribute to taste loss by reducing mucosal defences in the oral cavity, impairing sensitivity to oral stimulants. This study aimed to investigate the effects of salivary rheology on taste loss in ageing. Salivary mucin glycosylation and binding to the oral epithelium was investigated in older and younger adults. A cell-based model was utilised to consider the role of saliva in taste loss. Methods: Human subjects aged >60 years ( n = 25) and 18–30 ( n = 30) provided saliva samples which were analysed for viscosity, mucin composition and mucin binding to oral epithelial cells (TR146/MUC1). Oral epithelial cells (TR146/MUC1 and SCC090) provided models for taste receptor activation. Results: Reduced levels and sialylation of MUC7 were evident in saliva of older adults which may lead to reduced viscoelasticity, while viscosity is unaffected. Impaired muco-adhesion of saliva from older adults was also observed. Saliva from older adults facilitated the bitter taste receptor activation less well than saliva from younger adults. The causes of taste dysfunction in older adults are unknown, but this study supports a role of saliva in facilitating the activation of taste receptors.