Metallic taste in mouth or medically known as dysgeusia is an alteration or distortion of the sense of taste in which an individual feels like there is something metallic inside his or her mouth. The foul taste could either be sour (acidic) or bitter (alkaline) that doesn’t go away even a person doesn’t eat anything. Most cases of metallic taste in mouth are not serious but the illness negatively affects the comfort of eating to people with the condition. It may temporarily reduce a person’s appetite. There are different causes of metallic taste in mouth which are discussed below.
To give you light on what causes metallic taste in your mouth, you better visit your doctor to examine you. Before you make that doctor’s appointment you might also want to check on the status of your health insurance. Most packages cover doctor’s fees at least partially. Ask your health or life insurance provider for more information on what you should be paying and what you will get in return. Your doctor will give you professional advices on how to treat your metallic taste in mouth. The best time to seek medical help is when the metallic taste in your mouth becomes persistent or doesn’t go away for many days.
Causes of Metallic Taste in Mouth
- Aging – Taste bud number decreases with age affecting taste perception.
- Mouth dryness – Inadequate amount or absence of saliva in the mouth causes mouth dryness, with metallic taste in mouth as a consequence. The saliva is important in taste perception because it distributes food molecules into the taste buds. Dry mouth is also associated to bad breath since saliva is involved in regulating mouth bacteria.
- Fungal infection in the tongue or the mouth area – Fungi act negatively on the taste buds affecting taste perception.
- Various medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Bell’s Palsy, Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), jaundice, and others are associated to metallic taste in mouth.
- Injuries to the mouth, nose, or head resulting to the damage of nerves that relay taste information in brain centers.
- Chemotherapy or radiation treatment can also cause metallic taste in mouth.
- Certain medications such as anti-thyroid drugs, antidepressants, antibiotics (e.g. Flagyl), zinc preparations, neurologic drugs, and others could also cause metallic taste in mouth as a side effect.
- Dietary ketosis caused by high protein diet has been associated to metallic taste in mouth.
- Leakage of metals such as gold, silver, and mercury from dental fillings can cause metallic taste.
- Bleeding in the gum due to gingivitis can also cause metallic taste in mouth because blood hemoglobin contains iron metals.
- Deficiency to certain vitamins like Vitamin 12 and minerals like zinc.
- Illnesses that affect the sense of smell such as nasal infection, nasal polyps, sinusitis, flu, cold, etc. can cause metallic taste in mouth. It is because the sense of smell is needed for a normal taste perception.
- Metallic taste can also be an indication of copper toxicity, mercury poisoning, lead poisoning, and selenium overdose. Note that metal poisoning needs immediate medical attention because it can be fatal.
- Steel welders and workers in brass foundries reported metallic taste in mouth.
- Heavy smoking is also linked to metallic taste in mouth since tobacco contains metal residues.
- Head and neck cancers affecting important nerves.
- Copper ions from copper cookware and copper pipes can leak into food and drinking water respectively. This will result to copper taste in mouth. Note that too much intake of iron (iron overload) can cause health problems.
- Drinking unfiltered underground water can also cause metallic taste in mouth because the water contains trace metals such as calcium and magnesium.
When to Seek Doctor’s Help?
Note that any medical illness or disease can not be treated without first knowing its root cause. Let your doctor examine you. The doctor will ask you few questions that could help him in diagnosing the cause of your illness. What questions would you expect in your visit?
- Do you smoke?
- Do all drinks and foods taste the same?
- How long has the metallic taste lasted?
- Does the metallic taste affect your ability to eat?
- Do you have any problem with your sense of smell?
- Have you recently changed the brand of your mouthwash or toothpaste?
- Have you been ill or injured lately?
- What drugs or food supplements do you take?
- Besides from metallic taste, do you notice other symptoms like breathing problems?
- Do you have gum problem, tooth decays, and dental plaques? When is the last time you visited your dentist?
Home Remedies for Metallic Taste in Mouth
If the metallic taste is bothering you, here are soem home remedies that will give you temporary relief from metallic taste:
- Counter the metallic taste by consuming citrus juices, lemonade, and other sour substances (e.g. vinegar). Sour substances stimulate salivation which facilitates washing away of the metallic taste. You need to salivate especially when your mouth is dry.
- Try rinsing your mouth with a salt solution containing a teaspoon of table salt and eight ounces of water. You can also use baking soda, but dissolve only ¼ teaspoon.
- Eat small portions of raw condiments such as clove and cinnamon. Doing so can give you temporarily relief from metallic taste.
- When you brush your teeth, make sure to brush the tongue area. This can help lessen the metallic taste in your mouth.