Metallic Taste in Mouth

Our ability to taste is due to the thousands of taste buds within the mouth. These buds hold within them numerous receptor cells that are responsible for acquiring the ‘taste’ of food, and relaying that message via the body's network of nerves to the brain, where we perceive it as a known taste. Many things can affect this complex system, in turn, cause a metallic taste in mouth. Thus this occurs for numerous reasons, and it can also be treated and prevented.

What Causes Metallic Taste in Mouth?

There could be many reasons for this situation:

1. Oral Health

Poor oral health can lead to a change in your taste buds and your perception of taste, which in turn can cause you to experience a metallic taste in mouth.

2. Medications

Some medications can lead to the occurrence of experiencing a metallic taste in your mouth. These medications include:

  • Some antibiotics (clarithromycin, or metronidazole)
  • Blood pressure medications (Capoten)
  • Glaucoma medications (Neptazane)
  • Osteoporosis medications

3. Chemotherapy and Radiation

Some forms of chemotherapy and radiation therapy could cause a metallic taste in the mouth. This is due to the diminished levels of certain vitamins when receiving treatment. Boosting your intake of vitamins and minerals is thought to help avoid this.

4. Sinus Issues

As the systems of taste and smell are closely related, taste may be affected by issues that distort your sinus’s senses, such as a sinus infection, the common cold, allergies, or other infections of the upper respiratory system. Sinus issues are in fact a common cause of experiencing a metallic taste within your mouth.

5. Central Nervous System Disorders

The central nervous system is responsible for sending signals from your body to your brain, to relay information and allow us to function as normal. Taste signals from the sensory receptor cells within our taste buds also travel to the brain via the central nervous system, meaning a CNS injury or disorder, such as a stroke, can lead to a distortion in taste perception.

6. Pregnancy

Some women have reported noticing a metallic taste in mouth when pregnant, particularly in the early months. The exact cause of this is unknown, but some people would suggest it is due to the hormonal changes during this time, although others hypothesize it is because the increased sense of smell that many women experience during pregnancy.

7. Food Allergies

In some cases, a metallic taste within your mouth may be due to food allergies. If you experience this almost immediately after you have consumed a certain type of food, then you may be having an allergic reaction. If you are unsure as to whether you have any allergies, then speak with a health care professional.

8. Middle Ear Surgery

This surgery is commonly used to treat chronic infection of the ear. In some cases, the chorda tympani (a structure that regulates taste in the back section of the tongue) may be damaged, which can lead to taste distortion.

How to Get Rid of Metallic Taste in Mouth

1. Maintain Good Dental Hygiene

If you do not practice good oral hygiene then you may develop an oral ailment, such as gingivitis, which can cause a metallic taste in your mouth. This can be avoided by ensuring to maintain a good oral health, brushing at least twice a day and flossing after meals.

2. Change Your Diet Habit for Healthy Protein

Those experiencing a metallic taste may find the consumption of poultry or meat intolerable. For this reason, you need to find healthy sources of protein. This can be acquired from fish, eggs, dairy products (such as ice cream, or frozen yogurt), vegetables, nut-butter, and legumes. Fruit juices and/or vegetable smoothies can help to boost your body with vitamins as well as overpower the metallic taste. Sucking on a peppermint sweet is also thought to benefit in eradicating a metallic taste.

3. Take More Zinc

Many studies have shown the extreme benefit of zinc in regards to improving the occurrence of having a metallic taste in your mouth. Although it may seem strange to increase your intake of a metal to eradicate a metallic taste, there is strong evidence to suggest that is in fact the case. Zinc can be found in oysters, liver, cooked lean beef & lamb, roasted pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, spinach, cashew nuts, cooked lean pork and chicken, beans, mushrooms, and dark chocolate. Also you can take supplements if you’d prefer.

3. Cut Down on Artificial Sweeteners

Some artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and saccharin, which are found in many ‘diet’ products, may be the cause of the metallic taste in mouth. This is due to the sweeteners activating TRPV1 receptors, which reside within the cells in our taste buds. When this occurs, the receptors become sensitized to heat and acid, which can lead to a metallic taste. To avoid this, opt for natural sweeteners.

5. Try Eucalyptus

If the cause of metallic taste in your mouth is due to gum disease, then eucalyptus may help to eradicate the disease. Chewing eucalyptus gum helps to combat gum disease as whilst chewing, eucalyptus extract is released into your mouth, which is known for its benefits on treating gum disease (mild to moderate).

6. Use Lycopene

Lycopene is another beneficial substance for treating gum disease, which can be obtained as a supplement. It is thought that 8mg of lycopene a day can help to battle and reduce the inflammation associated with many gum diseases, which can also help to reduce or eradicate the metallic taste in your mouth.

7. Ingest Borage Oil

Borage oil, which contains fatty acids in abundance, may also be useful in treating gum disease when you ingest around 3,000 mg per day. Doing this is thought to reduce inflammation associated with gum disease, which may also be beneficial in eradicating the metallic taste.

When to See a Doctor

If you have tried the methods listed above to eradicate the metallic taste and it remains persistent, then it may be wise to pay a visit to the doctor. In most cases you will be referred to a specialist in the area, an otolaryngologist, who will carry out taste tests, as well as imaging studies to check your sinuses.

If you are experiencing a distortion in your taste perception, or more severely a complete loss of taste, then the downsides are countless. Not only will you be unable to enjoy the taste of a delicious meal, but also you cannot detect when food is spoiled. Distorted taste buds can lead to malnutrition, anorexia or obesity, and even depression. Metallic taste in mouth may also be an indication of an underlying disease such as Alzheimer’s disease, meaning that thorough medical examination is required if you are consistently experiencing this.

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