Updated on February 12, 2024
6 min read

Metallic Taste in Mouth: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

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Having a metallic taste is a condition medically known as dysgeusia. It’s usually not associated with severe health concerns.

However, it can be an indication of poor dental habits. Sometimes, it’s a sign of an underlying problem like infections or oral diseases. 

Understanding your overall health and knowing when a metallic taste should prompt a visit to a doctor or dentist is integral to dealing with this condition.

11 Possible Causes of Metallic Taste in Mouth

Several things can cause a metallic taste in your mouth, including:

1. Poor Oral Hygiene

Poor dental hygiene is one of the most common causes of having a metallic or otherwise bad taste in the mouth. You can usually resolve a metallic taste in the mouth by brushing and flossing regularly. 

Failure to maintain proper oral hygiene can lead to gum disease, increasing the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis. These conditions can leave a foul taste in your mouth.

A gum disease or infection requires dental care. Visit your dentist regularly to maintain good dental hygiene.

2. Over-the-Counter Vitamins or Medicines

Certain supplements and over-the-counter medications could cause a metallic taste in the mouth. This typically happens because your body absorbs the medicine, which comes out in your saliva.

This is especially true of supplements that contain heavy minerals such as: 

  • Copper
  • Chromium
  • Zinc

Many prenatal vitamins, as well as calcium and iron supplements, also fall into this category. Taking lozenges or other zinc treatments could also develop a metallic taste in your mouth. 

3. Prescription Drugs

Many prescription medications trigger a metallic taste in the mouth. These can include antibiotics, blood pressure medications, and gout medicine.

Some of the most common medications associated with metallic taste include:

  • Allopurinol
  • Antidepressants (can cause dry mouth, leading to metal taste)
  • Captopril
  • Clarithromycin
  • Lithium
  • Methazolamide
  • Metformin
  • Metronidazole
  • Tetracycline

4. Cancer Treatment

Chemotherapy and radiation trigger a metallic taste in the mouth, especially in patients receiving treatment for head and neck cancers. This is sometimes called “chemotherapy mouth” or “chemo mouth.”

Some people claim zinc and vitamin D ease this issue. There is evidence that zinc protects against radiotherapy-induced oral and oropharyngeal mucosa inflammation.1

5. Infections

Several illnesses and infections can affect your sense of taste, causing a metallic taste. These conditions include:

  • Colds
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Oral infections

This occurs because your sense of smell and taste are closely linked. If you have any sinus problems, it might also affect your taste buds.

6. Dementia

Taste buds are connected to brain nerves. When a person develops dementia, there is a part of the brain that affects a person’s sense of taste.6

This occurrence can result in a preference for sweets or experiencing a metallic taste in the mouth. However, more studies need to be conducted on this.

7. Pregnancy

The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can trigger dysgeusia. It’s this same phenomenon that triggers unusual pregnancy cravings. 

However, it can also manifest in a sour and/or metallic taste.2 It typically happens in the first trimester, as your pregnancy progresses, the metallic taste should disappear.

8. Allergies

Food allergies, especially to tree nuts and shellfish, can trigger a metallic taste. In this case, the metallic taste can be an early warning sign of anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis is a potentially fatal reaction, so you must consult your doctor if you suspect the strange taste is linked to a food allergy.

9. Chemical Exposures

A metallic taste might arise after exposure to certain chemicals, including:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Insecticides

Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you believe the metallic taste in your mouth is associated with chemical exposure.

10. Mouth Injuries or Surgery

You may experience a metallic taste in your mouth due to a mouth injury. It can also be caused by a condition known as burning mouth syndrome (BMS).

BMS often makes you feel like your mouth is burnt by coffee. It also causes a dry mouth and a bitter metallic taste.

Oral surgeries can also cause a metallic taste. This is often caused by general anesthetic drugs used during the surgery.

11. Indigestion

Indigestion could be responsible for the metallic taste in your mouth. You may also experience bloating and a burning sensation in your chest after eating.

The metallic taste can also be caused by heartburn or acid reflux. Once the indigestion is treated, the taste should go away.

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When to See a Doctor 

A metallic taste in your mouth is rarely severe, but it can be. You should see your doctor if:

  • The taste does not return to normal after a few days/weeks
  • Taste does not return to normal after the known cause is no longer an issue (you finish the offending medication or recover from the illness)
  • Loss of taste is associated with other symptoms
  • The reason for the strange taste is not obvious (you have no idea why it’s happening)
  • There’s a chance an allergic reaction caused the loss of taste
  • Loss of taste is linked to exposure to dangerous chemicals

How to Prevent Metal Taste in the Mouth

A metallic taste in the mouth can usually be prevented. The easiest way to do this is to maintain good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and tongue-scraping.

The most important thing you can do is speak to your doctor about getting to the root cause of the problem. Understanding why you experience taste changes and resolving that issue offers long-term relief.

How to Get Rid of Metallic Taste in the Mouth

There are several things you can do to alleviate the metallic taste in your mouth, including:

  • Rinse your mouth with baking soda and warm water before eating to neutralize acid
  • Chew on peppermint leaves or eat a commercial mint candy
  • Eat citrus, sour foods, or maple syrup to mask the taste of metal
  • Drink green, peppermint, or cinnamon tea
  • Oil pulling, which involves swishing coconut oil in your mouth as you would mouthwash
  • Drink diluted apple cider vinegar or use it as a salad dressing
  • Swish salt water in your mouth
  • Coat your tongue in a cinnamon and honey paste two times a day for 10 minutes
  • Drink warm lemon water 
  • Chew sugar-free gum, especially peppermint, spearmint, or cinnamon
  • Drink enough water and/or suck on ice
  • Avoid using metal water bottles and cutlery
  • Don’t smoke or quit smoking

Summary

A metallic taste in your mouth is a condition called dysgeusia. Several things could cause it, but the most common is having a poor oral hygiene routine.

Dysgeusia isn’t typically associated with serious health concerns. However, it can indicate an underlying condition that might require dental care.

If the metallic taste does not disappear after a few days, it is always best to visit your doctor. You can also prevent this by practicing good oral hygiene, avoiding or quitting smoking, and rinsing your mouth with baking soda mixed in warm water.

Last updated on February 12, 2024
8 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 12, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Hoppe et al. “Zinc as a Complementary Treatment for Cancer Patients: A Systematic Review.” Clinical and Experimental Medicine, 2021.
  2. What Causes a Metallic Taste in Your Mouth?” Cleveland Clinic, 2021.
  3. Edwards, E. “A Mouthful of Nickels? Some Say They Taste Metal after a Covid-19 Vaccination.” NBC News.
  4. DiNuzzo, E. “13 Things That Can Cause a Metallic Taste in Your Mouth.” MSN. 
  5. Taste Disorders | National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.” NIH. 
  6. Oral Health | Healthy People 2020.” Healthypeople.gov, 2014.
  7. Sakai et al. “Gustatory Dysfunction as an Early Symptom of Semantic Dementia.” Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders Extra, 2017.
  8. Bookout et all. “Burning Mouth Syndrome.” Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, 2023.
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