Metal Mouth? No, we aren’t talking about traditional metal braces or the maligned headgear used to perfect crooked smiles, but rather that unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth that you or someone you know has likely experienced.
The prime causes of a metal taste in the mouth include poor dental hygiene and some minor, easily remedied health concerns, plus, some more serious medical conditions.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Neglecting to brush and floss their teeth, in addition to causing bad breath, may cause a metallic taste due to a gum infection such as gingivitis and periodontitis or worse, necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis. If you recommit to brush and floss regularly and the metallic taste doesn’t subside, give New Look Dental a call to get checked out.
Some easily remedied health issues that can cause a metallic taste in the mouth include indigestion and sinus problems. Indigestion, which can manifest as bloating, gas, heartburn or reflux (GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a common cause of “metal mouth”. The good news is that indigestion is treatable and remedying it will banish the flavor of nails in your mouth. If indigestion persists longer than a few weeks and over-the-counter remedies don’t work, a gastroenterologist can help determine the cause and prescribe the correct solutions.
Sinusitis or sinus infections often cause olfactory impairment, altering a person’s ability to taste things accurately. If you suffer from sinus issues you may, or may not, have tasted the metal in your mouth, since sinus issues can diminish sense of smell, and therefore, taste. See a doctor if you have a stuffed-up nose, facial pain or headache that fails to go away, as you may have a sinus infection, which, metal taste or no, needs to be cleared up.
Things We Eat and Breathe
What we eat, as well as supplements or medications that we take, can definitely alter the way our mouth tastes.
To get to the bottom of the metallic taste, start by avoiding pine nuts to see if it is due to something you eat. While pine nuts are not harmful, in rare instances they cause pine mouth syndrome, a disorder characterized by an intense bitter taste that may appear a few days after eating and last for many weeks.
If you take multivitamins, prenatal vitamins or some cold remedies, you may notice a slight metallic taste in your mouth which can be attributed to minerals and metals such as calcium, copper, iron and zinc.
Interestingly, welders who work with zinc oxide can also get a metallic taste in their mouth due to breathing its fumes, a condition called metal fume fever. This, along with a symptom of extreme thirst subsides after 6-12 hours.
Certain prescription antibiotics, gout, heart or psychiatric medications are often reported to cause dry mouth and impart an odd, metallic taste.
Medical Condition and Disorders
Pregnancy is a wonderful gift, but is still an altered condition to your normal physiology that affects taste buds.
Mothers-to-be often experience a change in food preferences due to surging hormones that can cause a metallic tang in addition to odd snack cravings like pickles and ice cream.
Serious medical issues like brain surgery, cancer treatment, dementia and kidney failure can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth.
Brain surgery can alter one’s sense of smell and taste which can be a side effect of the surgery itself, or occur due to nerve damage from issues like Bell’s Palsy.
Chemotherapy and radiation used to treat cancer are known to make the mouth taste metallic or bitter, which fortunately resolves once treatment is completed.
Most of us take for granted the ability to taste what we are eating, but, if the area of the brain that determines taste is affected by dementia, it may illicit a metallic taste instead of sweet, salty, sour or umami.
Kidney failure, regardless of the cause, triggers a number of complications within the body, with a metallic taste being least among them.
To keep metal mouth at bay, keep up your daily preventive dental care, use alcohol-free mouth rinses and drink plenty of water to keep your mouth hydrated. If you have ruled out the other possible causes and the unpleasant metallic taste persists, we recommend consulting your physician about the supplements and medications you take, and more.