Why You May Have A Metallic Taste In Your Mouth.

Posted on Sep 12, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Occasionally, a patient will mention that they have been having a metallic taste in their mouth. After several questions, I’m usually able to determine that the condition is related to a prescription they’re taking. As a matter of fact, the majority of people who notice a metallic taste experience this due to a medication’s side effect.

The most common medications to cause a metallic taste in the mouth are antibiotics, antihistamines, some OTC supplements, and medications that treat blood pressure, neurologic and cardiac conditions.

Pharmacy Times states that “more than 300 drugs are associated with metallic taste” and that “as many as 11 percent of elderly patients who take multiple medications experience taste problems.” (https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2015/july2015/drug-induced-metallic-taste-no-irony)

This occurs when the body ingests and absorbs medications with iron, chromium, calcium, and zinc, which all cause a metallic taste in the mouth. The body absorbs these substances, which are released and excreted in the saliva, often resulting in a metallic taste. In addition to causing this taste, another common medication side effect is dry mouth, which can also cause a foul or metallic taste.

Dysgeusia is the medical term used to describe an abnormal or impaired sense of taste.

An excess of zinc in the body – or even lack of – can also cause taste changes. Malnutrition can lead to a zinc deficiency, slowing cell renewal that alters taste. Taking too much zinc (typically through supplements) can trigger dysgeusia that causes a metallic taste.

Another common source for a metallic taste are respiratory infections, including colds, sinus infections, and middle-ear infections. Anything that causes congestion and mucus may lead to having a foul or metallic taste in the mouth.

Pregnancy can also alter your sense of taste due to hormonal changes. Tasting metal in the mouth is not unusual. This usually occurs in the first trimester and subsides in the second.

Some people are surprised to learn that poor oral hygiene can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. When oral bacteria accumulate to the point of causing inflammation, a metallic taste may be detected in the mouth. This is why it is important to have dental check-ups every six months and be committed to a thorough, daily oral hygiene routine at home.

While chemotherapy is known to cause nausea, another common complaint of patients undergoing chemotherapy is having a metallic taste in the mouth. Just as certain components of oral medications can emerge in saliva, drugs administered intravenously can also emerge in the saliva, causing “metal mouth.”

Allergic reactions that trigger sinus reactions can lead to a metallic taste as well. Allergens most often associated with causing a metallic taste include tree pollen, tree nuts, and shellfish, according to Medical News Today. (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313744.php) Some people may have a metallic taste in their mouths for up to 2 days after eating pine nuts, which are commonly used in salads and pesto.

Too, a side effect of mercury poisoning is a metallic taste in the mouth. Although the neurological issues associated with mercury poisoning are more concerning, tasting metal in the mouth may serve as an early warning sign. By recognizing this as one of the indications of mercury toxicity, it may hopefully motivate people to seek medical evaluation.

Finally, liver or kidney disease can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. These conditions create a buildup of chemicals in the body, which are released into the saliva. For patients with severe kidney disease, the excess production of ammonia shows up in the saliva, causing a metallic taste in the mouth.

It’s amazing at how intricately and integrally connected each part of the body is to all other parts. Just as a skin rash may indicate an allergic reaction to something eaten, the mouth can be an indication point of things off-kilter in other areas.

If you suspect that your “metal mouth” is the result of a medication, it may subside (or lessen) after a few weeks. If not, it may be wise to have other areas checked. Your zinc levels, hormones, oral health, and other items may need to be evaluated to ensure all parts of your body are in proper balance.

Recent Posts