Dysgeusia (diss-GOOZ-ee-a) is the scientific term for a metallic taste in the mouth. This problem has several possible causes. Medications, medical or dental conditions, as well as environmental factors can be the culprit. Determining the cause, when possible, is helpful in eliminating or treating the problem. The problem can be identified as short-term, such as from a course of antibiotics, or long-term, as in the case of a chronic illness. If you're experiencing dysgeusia that doesn't resolve in a short period of time, contact your health care provider.
Determine the cause. Once you know why you have the problem, a course of action can be decided. Eliminating the cause of dysgeusia is the best course of action but not always possible. In that case, making some changes and taking a few simple steps can make the dysgeusia more tolerable.
Check your medications for side effects. A metallic taste in the mouth is listed as a side effect with many medications. If you aren't sure, check with your pharmacist or doctor. Sometimes, the doctor can prescribe an alternate medication.
Some medications that list this side effect are:
Antibiotics such as Penicillin
Supplements such as Calcium Carbonate
Prenatal vitamins--especially when taken with an antidepressant
Anesthetics such as Lidocaine
Verify the dosage on all medication. Check to make sure you're taking the correct dosage of medications, vitamins and other supplements. A metallic taste in the mouth has been associated with selenium overdose and certain chronic vitamin deficiencies. Zinc and vitamin B12 deficiencies can lead to this problem but resolve when the missing nutrient is added to the diet. Taking the correct dosage of a medication or supplement is critical.
See the dentist. Dental issues can contribute to this problem. Sinus problems, post nasal drip and bleeding gum tissue may also be the cause. The broken down red blood cells release iron causing a metallic taste. In addition, dental fillings made from different metals can create an electrical current in the mouth that can be tasted as metallic. Some people have reported experiencing dysgeusia after getting dentures or other metal dental hardware. Some dentists believe the breakdown of mercury fillings also causes dysgeusia.
Get a checkup. Several health conditions can cause a person to experience the metallic taste in his mouth. Food allergies may be the cause, and the problem resolves when eliminating the offending food. Cancer patients often experience this problem either from the disease or from chemotherapy or radiation. Peptic ulcer patients, as well as patients suffering from kidney disease, may complain of dysgeusia. People who are dieting or on a high protein diet may have a metallic taste in the mouth, as well. Exposure to metals, such as copper in cooking utensils or the water supply, may also be linked to this problem as can mercury or lead poisoning. Workers in the steel and brass industries have also reported dysgeusia.
Practice good oral hygiene. Rinse your mouth several times a day with a mild saltwater solution consisting of 1 tsp of salt in an 236ml glass of water.
Brush your teeth four times a day.
Gently brush your tongue each time you brush your teeth.
Drink plenty of fluids. Drink citrus juices and tart drinks, such as lemonade, to stimulate saliva production. Keep your mouth moist. A dry mouth aggravates the problem.
Eat tart foods. Eat foods containing vinegar or vinegar-based dressings to promote saliva production. Use citrus-flavoured candies throughout the day to increase saliva production and mask the taste in the mouth.
Change your cooking utensils. Replace silverware with plastic eating utensils. Some people with a sensitivity react to the metals in tableware.
Change your cookware. Consider the type of pots and pans you're using. Copper cookware has been a problem for some people.
Test your water supply. If you suspect your tap water has excess copper in it, run the faucet for two to three minutes before use. If possible, have your water supply tested by a reputable company.