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Having a metal taste is a condition that is unpleasant and relatively common. Medically known as dysgeusia, it’s usually not associated with serious health concerns (except in some cases).
Understanding your overall health and knowing when a metallic taste should prompt a visit to a doctor or dentist is an integral part of dealing with this condition.
Several things can cause a metallic taste in your mouth, including:
One of the most common causes of having a metallic or otherwise bad taste in the mouth is poor dental hygiene. You can usually resolve a metallic taste in the mouth by brushing and flossing regularly.
Dental issues such as gingivitis and periodontitis can cause a foul taste in your mouth when you fail to do so. A dentist visit to deal with any infections and ongoing good dental hygiene can resolve the problem.
Some things that are good for your health cause unpleasant effects. Certain supplements and over-the-counter medications cause a metallic taste in the mouth.
This is especially true of supplements that contain heavy minerals such as copper, chromium, and zinc. Many prenatal vitamins, as well as calcium and iron supplements, also fall into this category.
Additionally, if you’re taking lozenges or other treatments that contain zinc, you could develop a metallic taste in your mouth.
Many prescription medications trigger a metallic taste in the mouth. Some of the most common medications associated with metallic taste include:
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 inflammation of oral and oropharyngeal mucosa.1
Several illnesses and infections can affect taste and cause you to taste metal, including:
Oral infections can also trigger a metallic taste.
Taste buds tend to diminish with age, but it’s especially problematic when someone develops dementia.
Taste abnormalities, including a metallic taste, are a common symptom of changes in a specific part of the brain. This is because taste buds are connected by brain nerves. When this portion of the brain malfunctions, it affects taste.
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
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. This is a potentially fatal reaction, so it’s essential to consult with your doctor if you suspect the strange taste is linked to a food allergy.
A metallic taste might arise after exposure to certain chemicals, including:
Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you believe the metallic taste in your mouth is associated with chemical exposure.
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.
Other ways to reduce your risk of metal or foul taste in your mouth include:
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, if possible, instead of masking symptoms, offers long-term relief.
There are several things you can do to alleviate the metallic taste in your mouth, including:
Having a metallic taste in your mouth is rarely serious, but it can be. You should see your doctor if: