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Why do I have a metallic taste in my mouth?

Oct 5, 2023Oral health

Why do I have a metallic taste in my mouth?

Dysgeusia, a condition that manifests as a metallic, foul, or bitter taste in the mouth, causes an altered sensory experience for the individual. This interference with the tasting process can result in a lack of, or change in, taste. The neural receptors in your taste buds are accountable for transmitting signals to your brain to identify the flavor compounds as either sweet, sour, salty, or bitter.

It is crucial to seek medical attention upon experiencing a metallic taste in the mouth, as this may be indicative of a more serious underlying issue.

 

Causes of a Metallic Taste in the Mouth

The presence of a metallic flavor in the mouth can result from various underlying factors. Certain causes may be attributed to oral health, while others aren’t.

Gum Disease or Poor Oral Health

Lack of proper oral hygiene can lead to the development of gingivitis or periodontal disease. The term poor encompasses avoidance of regular dental check-ups and irregular brushing and flossing. These practices may cause an unpleasant metallic taste in one’s mouth.

Frequently, the sensation of having a metal mouth may be indicative of bleeding gums, which is a clear indication of gum disease. Due to its high iron content, blood will leave a metallic taste in the mouth.

One must address gum disease promptly to prevent undesirable outcomes like tooth loss. If you’re experiencing a metallic taste in your mouth and suspect gum disease, it’s advisable to schedule an appointment with your dentist.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

The appropriately named syndrome referred to as burning mouth syndrome leads to a burning sensation on the tongue or mucous membranes located within the oral cavity. This discomfort is frequently accompanied by a bitter or metallic taste.

Burning mouth syndrome can be remedied by means of medication such as tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines (primarily for anxiety treatment), and gabapentin (which is known to alleviate seizures and pain).

Mouth Injury or Oral Surgery

Injuries to the mouth, such as accidental biting of the tongue, and oral surgeries like wisdom teeth removal or tonsillectomy, can lead to an unmistakable metallic taste in the oral cavity.

 

Medication and Vitamins

It has been found that several well-known drugs leave an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth due to their interaction with taste centers in the brain. Such medications are frequently prescribed and include:

  • Antibiotics, including metronidazole
  • Antidepressants or antipsychotic medications
  • Antifungal medications
  • Antihistamines
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Diabetes medications, including metformin
  • Diuretics
  • Glaucoma medications
  • Nicotine patches
  • Osteoporosis medications
  • Radiation drugs
  • Seizure medications, including phenytoin
  • Steroids

Certain types of vitamins, such as those that incorporate metallic elements like copper, iron, and zinc, can elicit a metallic flavor due to their composition. This is a common experience among women who take prenatal vitamins.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is marked by fluctuations in hormones which can disturb your sense of taste and smell. You may experience a peculiar metallic taste in the mouth as a result of these changes.

In the initial phase of pregnancy, there is a likelihood of encountering an unusual taste akin to morning sickness. It is observed that this occurrence is more frequent in the first trimester compared to the later stages.

Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis

It has been reported that particular food allergies, like shellfish and tree nuts, are capable of inducing a metallic taste sensation in the mouth.

An indication of a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, could be the sudden occurrence of a metallic taste. It may commence before any other symptoms of anaphylaxis become apparent.

The following indicators are observable: inflammation, irritation of the skin, respiratory distress, audible wheezing, feeling queasy or vomiting, severe headaches, and disorientation.

Anaphylaxis poses a severe threat to life. Without hesitation, dial 911 at the first sign of an anaphylactic reaction in yourself or anyone you are with.

Neurological Diseases

Diseases that affect the neurological system, such as Alzheimer’s disease and various forms of dementia, can lead to a misinterpretation of the signals transmitted by the taste buds to the brain. This may result in a reduction in appetite and an unpleasant metallic taste sensation in the mouth.

There exist various neurological complications that may trigger this response, including:

  • Bell’s palsy
  • Brain injury or tumors
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke

Cancer treatment

Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may result in a variety of taste and smell alterations, particularly for those with head and neck cancers. These changes could include a metallic taste commonly referred to as chemo mouth among other distinct tastes and smells.

Ongoing research indicates that the incorporation of zinc and vitamin D can potentially aid in combating the issue at hand.

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