Why do I have a metallic taste in my mouth?

The condition of metallic taste in mouth, in medical terms, is known as ‘dysgeusia’. In most cases, it is a harmless condition and is not associated with the occurrence of any serious or deadly illnesses.

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Dysgeusia is a sign of a sour, acidic, bitter or metallic taste in mouth. This taste might go on for a long time. If a person has suffered from health problems such as oral cavity anomalies, cancer, gastritis, and mercury or lead poisoning, then he/she may suffer from metallic taste in mouth.

The severity of the disorder and associated symptoms is dependent upon the cause of metallic taste in mouth, some of which can be fatal. Prompt diagnosis and relevant treatment is therefore vital.

Causes of metallic taste in mouth

Causes of metallic taste in mouth are as follows:

Intake of certain medicines and food items: Consumption of certain foodstuff or medicines can lead to metallic taste in mouth. These include:

  • Taste of metal in mouth can occur when certain drugs are consumed. For example, use of some antibiotics, antidepressant drugs, prenatal vitamins, and medicines for high blood pressure and diabetes can cause metallic flavor in mouth. It may however be noted that the abnormal taste does not persist for a long time, but occurs only for a short period.
  • Intake of sea foods like tuna, mackerel, bonito etc. might cause metallic taste in mouth for a short period. This is called as ‘histamine fish poisoning.’ It later vanishes on its own.

Dental problems: Dental infections and poor hygiene are the main reasons for this condition.

  • There are various types of oral infections like periodontal disease, gingivitis, trench mouth, tooth abscess etc. which affect the mouth and can cause taste of metal in mouth.
  • When oral cavity is infected by fungus it affects not only the tongue but also harms the taste buds and triggers metallic taste in mouth.
  • When some matter in the oral cavity reacts with substance like mercury or silver it can result in metallic taste in mouth. This is said to be the most common dental cause of taste of metal in mouth.

Underlying diseases: When a person suffers from various illnesses, it might result in metallic taste in mouth. These can be:

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  • Cancer, kidney problems, and peptic ulcers, as well as severe failure of kidneys can trigger taste of metal in mouth.
  • Acid reflux, gastritis, jaundice and heartburn are the main reasons for metallic taste in mouth.
  • If a patient suffers from various sinus problems which includes sinus infection, this may also result in metallic taste in mouth.
  • Allergies after consumption of some food may also trigger metallic flavor in mouth.
  • Also, in case of many autoimmune sicknesses, one of the symptoms is taste of metal in mouth.
  • Consumption of alcohol for a long time can harm the taste buds and affect the oral cavity causing metallic taste in mouth.
  • Any injuries or abnormalities which have affected particular part of the brain, which controls the senses of smell and taste, might disturb the taste buds and cause metallic taste in mouth.
  • At times iron and copper level increases above the normal level which may trigger metallic flavor in mouth.

Other causes: Some other uncommon causes are:

  • Excessive smoking, drinking well water or any such water which contains magnesium, calcium, and minerals can lead to metallic taste in mouth.
  • People with jobs or work that involve being exposed to chemicals such as gasoline, lacquer, hydrazine, dust, cobalt, rubber, and so on are more prone to suffering from metallic taste in mouth in comparison to others.
  • Pregnant women may also suffer from metallic flavor in mouth. It happens during the 1st trimester of pregnancy; this happens mainly because of changes in the hormones which occur during pregnancy, especially changes in the estrogen hormone level.
  • Sometimes due to increased age of fifty or more may also cause metallic taste in mouth.

Treatment of metallic taste in mouth

Metallic taste in mouth is treated by finding out the cause first and then giving appropriate treatment.

  • One of the easiest way to lessen dental problems is following good oral hygiene like daily brushing, proper cleansing of the tongue, and flossing; these help keep away the growth of bacteria in the oral cavity. Mouthwash is also helpful to remove unwanted oral pathogens.
  • Apart from using a good toothpaste when brushing, patients may also use salt and/or baking soda to clear away plaque and infection.

The above remedies are for minor dental problems. In case of major underlying diseases, a medical expert has to be consulted who will then prescribe relevant treatments.

Home remedies can be used to lessen the taste of metal in mouth. These are:

  • Increase the consumption of citrus fruits such as orange, lemon etc. This will stimulate the production of saliva.
  • Consuming food that is prepared in vinegar or food that is marinated.
  • Excess intake of coffee and tea should be avoided.
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