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Why Do I Have A Metallic Taste In My Mouth?

by Lucy Stock BDS DipImpDent RCS (Eng)

Published in the Irish News . 16.04.2014

We often take being able to taste our food for granted but when things go wrong and our ability to taste normally changes, it can be demoralizing. Taste can be affected in many ways, from total loss of taste to alterations in taste. One common complaint of patients is that they have a metallic taste in their mouths. Dysgeusia is the medical term for a distorted ability to taste. So what triggers the change?

Medications are a leading cause of a metallic taste in the mouth. The types of drugs that can cause this side effect include antibiotics, smoking cessation medication like nicotine patches and drugs that treat a wide range of conditions including heart and blood pressure problems; cancer; arthritis; diabetes and osteoporosis– among others. So unfortunately, the older we get the more likely it is that we will experience a change in our taste as we are more likely to be taking multiple medications. 

Neglecting our mouth health can put us on a rocky road to problems. Gum infections, tooth decay and abscesses can produce a bad taste in your mouth, which may be experienced as a metallic taste. Taste and smell go hand in hand so if your sense of smell goes then your ability to taste properly can change likewise. So sinus infections and allergies can also sometimes lead to a metallic taste. In addition there could be an underlying disease that is eliciting the difference in taste like an inflammatory disease or diseases that affect your nerves. The hormone fluctuations that accompany pregnancy are believed to cause the metallic taste reported by some women, especially during the first trimester.

Due to the variety of causes of dysgeusia, there are many possible treatments that are effective in alleviating or stopping the symptoms. If nothing seems to help, or it is appearing to get worse, it’s best to talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions.

Some ways that may improve taste are:

  • Brushing your tongue.
  • Try rinsing with salt water
  • Maximise your dental hygiene routine by brushing twice a day and cleaning in between your teeth.
  • Try mint toothpaste when brushing your teeth.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Chew sugar free gum.