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There are lots of reasons you may have a lingering metallic taste in your mouth, from medication to poor tooth brushing habits. Once you figure out why it’s happening, there are often easy steps you can take to get rid of the problem.

Oral Health

You might need to step up your dental hygiene. Brush and floss regularly to avoid problems with your teeth and gums, like gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth infections. Those conditions can all put a bad taste in your mouth.

If poor oral health is the cause, you could also have swollen, bright, or dark red gums or gums that bleed easily. You might also have bad breath.

If you have these symptoms, see your dentist for a professional cleaning and ask if you need a prescription to treat any infections.

Colds and Other Infections

Have you been feeling under the weather? Colds, sinus infections, and upper respiratory infections can change the taste in your mouth. If this is the cause, you’ll also have symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, and cough.

Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take over-the-counter pain relievers if necessary. The metallic taste should go away once you’re better.

Medication

Drugs like antibiotics can give you a metallic taste. Other possible causes in the medicine cabinet include:

If the metallic taste bothers you, talk to your doctor, but don’t stop taking your medication without their approval.

Vitamins

Your prenatal vitamins, iron, or calcium supplements could be the cause. Multivitamins with copper, zinc, or chromium can leave a metallic flavor. So can cold lozenges that are made with zinc.

The good news: The metallic taste should go away soon after you take the pills.

Indigestion

Heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion could be responsible for a metallic taste. Other symptoms you get with these conditions are bloating and a burning feeling in your chest after eating.

To treat the underlying problem, avoid rich foods, eat dinner earlier, and take antacids.

If you keep getting indigestion, have a hard time swallowing, or are in serious pain, see your doctor. The taste in your mouth should go back to normal when your indigestion is under control.

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Pregnancy

It’s not a surprise that the taste in your mouth might shift when you’re pregnant.

You could develop a metallic taste at the beginning of your pregnancy. It should be temporary and go away on its own.

Dementia

Things often taste different when you have dementia. The part of the brain that controls taste sometimes stops working well.

Cook with strong or sweet flavors, and try different types of foods and drinks to help increase your appetite.

Cancer Treatment

Bitter or metallic tastes that linger in your mouth are a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. It usually goes away when you finish treatment.

In the meantime, switch up your foods to help mask the problem. Add tart ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar, or pickles to your meals. Spices, herbs, and sweeteners bring strong flavor. Try eating more frozen or cold foods. Swap metal utensils for wood or plastic.

Chemical Exposure

Inhaling high levels of mercury or lead can cause a metallic taste in your mouth. It’s important to avoid or lower you and your family’s exposure to these chemicals.

Lead can be harmful to both children and adults. Children can get lead poisoning from lead-based paints or lead-contaminated dust found in older buildings. Air, water, and soil can also get contaminated with lead and be dangerous. Adults who do home renovations and/or work with batteries have a higher risk of lead poisoning.

Mercury can be brought into your home from industrial sites and broken household items, like thermometers. Both long- and short-term exposure to mercury can be harmful to your health.

Removing the source of contamination (like getting rid of the lead-based paint) is the first line of treatment. You may also need medications from doctors.

CNS Disorders

Sometimes a central nervous system (CNS) disorder can cause you to have a taste distortion or make things taste different than usual. These include conditions like Bell’s palsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), and even depression. Talk to your doctor if you have one of these conditions and are noticing a metallic taste.

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Metallic Taste in Your Mouth Treatment and Prevention

There’s no one way to treat or prevent a metallic taste in your mouth. Your treatment depends on the cause. In some cases this unpleasant symptom may clear up on its own, for instance if you stop taking the vitamins or remove the source of lead you’ve been exposed to. But other times, you have to try additional methods:

  • See your dentist to clear up any infections around your teeth (periodontitis) or gums.

  • Brush your teeth and tongue twice per day and floss once per day for good oral hygiene. This can prevent tooth decay and mouth infections.

  • Drink water and chew sugar-free gum to keep away oral infections that could cause a metallic taste in the mouth.

  • Before meals, rinse your mouth with a combination of a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water.

  • Try using plastic utensils and glass or ceramic cookware rather than metal ones.

  • Try marinating meat in sweet fruit juices or sweet wines or cook with lots of herbs and spices.

  • Some medications can give you a metallic taste in your mouth. Check with your doctor and let them know that you are experiencing this side effect. Perhaps switching to a different medication may help. Don’t stop taking prescribed medication without first talking to your doctor.

Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on July 31, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

UK National Health Service: “Metallic Taste,” “Indigestion.”

Cleveland Clinic: “8 Possible Causes for That Metallic Taste in Your Mouth.”

Mayo Clinic: “Periodontitis,” “Gingivitis,” “Common Cold,” “Lead Poisoning: Symptoms & Causes,” “When and how often should you brush your teeth?”

Michigan Medicine Rogel Cancer Center: “Food Just Doesn’t Taste the Same.”

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: “How to Reduce Metallic Tastes During Cancer Treatment.”

Cancer Treatment Reviews: “Metallic Taste in Cancer Patients Treated With Chemotherapy.”

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center: “What Causes a Bloody or Metallic Taste in Your Mouth During Workouts?”

CDC: “Antibiotic Prescribing and Use in Doctor’s Offices.”

Alzheimer’s Society: “Poor Appetite and Dementia.”

Advances in Oto-Rhino-Laryngology: “Neurological Aspects of Taste Disorders.”

United States Environmental Protection Agency (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry): “Mercury Quick Facts, Health Effects of Mercury Exposure.”

American Dental Association: “Xerostomia (Dry Mouth).”

Cancer.Net: “Taste Changes.”