Metallic Taste in Your Mouth - Causes and Treatment

Metallic Taste in Your Mouth - Causes and Treatment
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Metallic Taste in Your Mouth - Causes and TreatmentClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Causes
  2. Prevention
  3. When to See a Doctor
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. References

Having a metallic taste in your mouth is usually a temporary condition triggered by the taking of certain medications, in particular chemotherapy drugs.

Other causes include a zinc deficiency and having a significant head injury such as a concussion.

The condition where your sense of taste is distorted is known as dysgeusia, or parageusia, and one of the symptoms is often a metallic taste.

Common Causes of Metallic Taste in Your Mouth

Among the causes are chemotherapy, zinc deficiency, hormonal changes during pregnancy, hypothyroidism, liver diseases and certain medications, including antibiotics and antihistamines.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy to treat cancer is a common cause of a metallic taste in the mouth. Among the side effects of chemotherapy include damage to the oral cavity, causing salivary gland dysfunctions and oral infections. Serious infections and salivary gland dysfunction result in a reduction in saliva.

Also, individuals who undergo radiation therapy may lose saliva tissue. A decrease in saliva can lead to dysgeusia and the associated metallic taste in your mouth. Saliva happens to be a crucial component of your taste mechanism by protecting and interacting with taste receptors in your mouth.

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency is another common cause of taste distortion. The definitive role of zinc deficiency in dysgeusia is not known. However, zinc plays a role in the production and repair of taste buds.

Some studies that patients treated with zinc have increased calcium concentrations in their saliva. For your taste buds to function properly, they rely on calcium receptors. As such, zinc is an important aspect of optimally functioning taste buds.

Certain Medications
A variety of medications are known to cause dysgeusia. These medications include a number of antibiotics, antihistamines, and in rare cases, calcium channel blockers such as Amlodipine. These and other drugs may cause taste disturbances through various mechanisms.
Pregnancy
Hormonal changes during pregnancy, such as changes in estrogen levels, can impact the sense of taste. A large majority of women experience changes in taste during pregnancy, indicative of dysgeusia.
Treatment

Treatment: How to Get Rid of the Metallic Taste

Treatments for having a metallic taste include bolstering the amount of saliva in your mouth, adding a zinc supplement to your diet, managing your prescription drugs and trying to see which home remedies may help.

Artificial Saliva

A decrease in saliva production and flow can lead to taste disturbances such as dysgeusia. You can lessen the effects of the condition with artificial saliva.

Artificial saliva has similar characteristics to natural saliva and helps lubricate and protect your mouth without the enzymatic or digestive effects. A doctor can also prescribe oral pilocarpine, which stimulates your saliva glands to produce saliva.

Zinc Supplementation
Zinc supplementation is used as a treatment option for dysgeusia since zinc deficiency is a common cause of taste distortions. A recommended daily dose of 25 to 100 mg of zinc supplementation appears to be effective in treating taste disorders arising from zinc deficiency.
Drug Management
The treatment of dysgeusia resulting from drug use depends on the medication in question. Treatment options may include a dosage reduction and substitution with another drug. These interventions are only viable once other causes are ruled out.
Home Remedies

Home remedies are a crucial aspect of managing dysgeusia that can help alleviate or get rid of the metallic taste in your mouth. Remedies include:

  • Brushing your teeth frequently, using mouthwash and flossing
  • Using sialagogues including sugarless gum, breath mints, or lozenges that help stimulate saliva production
  • Flavoring your foods with seasonings and spices
  • Avoiding metallic tasting or bitter foods
  • Eating foods high in protein

Prevention

Preventing zinc deficiency may be a vital step in preventing dysgeusia. You can lower your risk of zinc deficiency by incorporating dietary sources rich in zinc, such as meat, fish, legumes, seeds, nuts, and dairy.

Zinc supplements are also an excellent preventative option.

Proper oral hygiene is important for preventing dysgeusia. Also, consuming foods that have a high acid content, including citrus fruits and foods marinated in vinegar, can help prevent the metallic taste in your mouth.

When to See a Doctor

Depending on the cause, a metallic taste in your mouth is usually a temporary condition. Medical experts advise a visit your doctor if the metallic taste does not go away or if there is no obvious cause of the condition.

See your doctor if the metallic taste and other accompanying symptoms affect the quality of your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does metallic taste in your mouth mean?
A metallic taste in the mouth is a taste distortion resulting in an unpleasant taste similar to metal (such as coins). Your taste may also be bitter, salty, or rancid and accompanied by a burning sensation in your mouth.
Should I be worried about a metallic taste in my mouth?
Most of the time, a metallic taste in your mouth is not something to worry about as it is temporary. However, if this symptom persists, visit your doctor. The condition can be indicative of several conditions.

References

Metallic Taste in the Mouth: Symptoms & Signs. (October 2019). MedicineNet.

Radiotherapy and the oral environment the effects of radiotherapy on the hard and soft tissues of the mouth and its management. (June 2013). National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Role of Saliva in the Maintenance of Taste Sensitivity. (April 2000). Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine.

Zinc Gluconate in the Treatment of Dysgeusia - a Randomized Clinical Trial. (January 2005). Journal of Dental Research.

Taste disturbances linked to drug use. (March 2006). Canadian Pharmacists Journal.

Is Dysgeusia Going to be a Rare or Common Side-effect of Amlodipine? (April 2014). Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research.

Changes in Gustatory Sense During Pregnancy. (July 2009). Acta Oto-Laryngologica.

Pregnant and can’t get rid of that metallic taste in your mouth, you need to read this. (January 2021). News24.

Pilocarpine. (October2020). MedicineNet.

Zinc deficiency and taste disorders. (February 1996). National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Metallic taste. (September 2020). National Health Service.

Taste Disorders. (May 2017). National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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