What causes a soapy taste in the mouth?

Written by holly huntington
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What causes a soapy taste in the mouth?
Find out the reasons you taste a soapy residue in your mouth (Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images)

Unusual tastes in the mouth can be irritating. They can be the result of a number of things: changing toothpaste products used in the home, eating an exotic meal or spices or even medication use. But some unusual tastes in the mouth are the result of poisoning, so it is important to better understand why you might be having unusual tastes in the mouth. For example, a soapy taste in the mouth could be the result of ingesting too much fluoride (sodium fluoride), which can be poisonous to your health according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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Sodium Fluoride Defined

If you look up the definition of sodium fluoride you might find a reference to the fluoridation of water within the definition, as well as support of its use in preventing tooth decay. However, Miriam-Webster Dictionary provides a more chilling definition of sodium fluoride: "a poisonous crystalline salt (NaF) that is used in trace amounts of the fluoridation of drinking water and toothpastes, in metallurgy, as a flux, and as a pesticide."

For those who have assumed that fluoride in toothpastes and tap water is a good thing, Miriam's definition gives great pause, as it expressly states that "trace amounts only" are expected to be present in drinking water and toothpaste. In addition, it states that sodium fluoride is used in pesticides and it is considered poisonous, most definitely when ingested in large quantities.

But what does sodium fluoride have to do with having a soapy taste in the mouth? Quite a bit, actually, since that soapy taste can indicate that you have ingested too much sodium fluoride and are now at risk for more severe health symptoms.

Centers for Disease Control

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), whose headquarters is located in Atlanta, Georgia, warns against sodium fluoride poisoning and cautions that one of the symptoms of this type of poisoning is a soapy taste in the mouth. According to the CDC, a soapy taste in the mouth can be the first indicator of sodium fluoride poisoning. Sometimes this soapy taste is also joined by a salty taste as well, due to the sodium component of this crystalline salt.

But a soapy taste in your mouth isn't going to be your only problem if it is the result of sodium fluoride poisoning. Additional--and more severe--symptoms generally follow for those who have ingested too much sodium fluoride: collapse, shock, numbness of mouth, vomiting, diarrhoea, dilated pupils and pallor.

Other Sources of Sodium Fluoride in the Home

In addition to the most common means of sodium fluoride poisoning (drinking tap water with too much fluoridation in it, receiving too many fluoride treatments at the dental office or a combination of the two), sodium fluoride poisoning is also a result of contaminated dry foods: dry milk, flour, baking powder and even cake mixes. These dry foods may contain insecticides or rodenticides found in the sodium fluoride, posing a health danger.

Diagnosis

According to the CDC, laboratory testing should be done on vomitus or gastric washings if the aforementioned severe symptoms are present (collapse, shock, vomiting, diarrhoea, etc.). This testing will aid in the detection and diagnosis of sodium fluoride poisoning.

This particular medical condition is not contagious, but testing will help you to properly label the reason for your symptoms and aid in preventing another occurrence, since you can take steps to eliminate this chemical in your home and body in the future.

Treatment

If a mild soapy taste is present, but the other symptoms mentioned above are not, you may be able to head off a more serious case of sodium fluoride poisoning--and put an end to your soapy mouth taste--without aid of a doctor. You might be able to do this by simply reducing the amount you drink of tap water each day (or having your tap water checked for fluoridation levels, which may need to be reduced by your water company).

In addition, reducing your in-home or dental office fluoride treatment product use would be a wise option (after you discuss it with your dentist, of course), as would choosing to use a toothpaste that does not contain as much sodium fluoride.

There are no specific at-home treatment options given by the CDC for those suffering from a soapy mouth due to sodium fluoride poisoning. Elimination of this chemical from your home and diet would be a logical conclusion, though. But if you or someone you know begins to suffer the more severe symptoms described above (shock, collapse, mouth numbness), seek professional medical attention.

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