Often times, we love to savor the taste of what we eat, but what do we do when there’s no food in there and our mouth tastes like metal? The number of times this has happened, I’m sure you have wondered what the problem is with your tongue. In a sense, you are right to suspect your tongue, but there may be other reason you have that metallic taste in your mouth.
The tongue is known to be the primary organ of taste in humans. Although it used to be believed that it is the longest muscle in the body, that is false. However, the tongue is one of the most important muscles in the body as it is an integral part of the digestive system. It is also important in speech and cleaning of the teeth and mouth in general.
In this article, we will discuss about the tongue and how it works, to help us understand how the metallic taste in the mouth develops and how we got to perceive it. Also, we will consider the different factors that may cause your mouth to taste like metal.
How Do You Detect When Your Mouth Tastes Like Metal?
You know what your mouth tastes like or the taste of whatever is in your mouth, thanks to the taste buds and the olfactory sensory neurons. The taste buds get the flavor of what is in your mouth but doesn’t recognize it immediately. It sends messages to the brain through the nerve endings and transmits the same to the brain through the olfactory sensory neurons.
The brain registers the taste, and if it has been experienced before, it recognizes it and gives feedback to you.
The sense of taste is a complex pathway that comprises of different types of taste buds in different parts of the tongue. Therefore, to ascertain that your mouth tastes like metal, your brain and your tongue must have experienced the metallic taste before.
Why Your Mouth to Taste like Metal?
The metallic taste you experience in your mouth is called Parageusia or Dysgeusia. It is a medical condition that is characterized by the distortion of the taste sense. It is a milder condition that makes the taste buds less effective at getting tastes. Unlike Aguesia, taste can still be registered, but not as well as it should.
When your mouth tastes like metal, it is probably because there is an underlying cause, an it is only present as a symptom to the cause. It is difficult to make a diagnosis on the distortion of the taste sense alone, since it is attached to other senses, such as the sense of smell.
However, here are some possible reasons, ranging from nutrient deficiency to medications and diseases that can cause your mouth to taste like metal.
Zinc is an important mineral in many aspects of the human lives. It is important in reproduction, relay of messages in the central nervous system, muscle contraction and relaxation, skin health, and gastrointestinal activities.
The amount of zinc in the body becomes insufficient when the intake is reduced, and this negatively affects the various activities it is involved in.
The sense of taste needs to have a message pass to and from the brain, a function that is expedient in the presence of zinc. However, when there is inadequate amount of the mineral, messages, such as taste, can be distorted.
Chemotherapy, the treatment of cancer, is another possible cause for a mouth to taste like metal. The medication used in chemotherapy are so strong, they produce free radicals that can cause damage to organs of the body. One of such organ damages is called Ototoxicity – damage to the inner parts of the ear.
This may interfere with the olfactory neurons and affect the sense of taste.
Issues with the Sinuses
Sinusitis may also cause the sense of taste to be distorted, at least for a while, till the condition is dealt with. The different sinuses in the human body are connected, and a trouble with one may well mean trouble to all of them.
If your mouth tasting like metal is caused by sinusitis, one of your sinuses may be engorged with fluid and pressing against the olfactory neurons, making taste messages from, and to the brain distorted.
Poor Oral health
Perhaps you have not been taking your oral health as seriously as should. One of the possible causes of having your mouth taste like metal is poor oral hygiene. The presence of bacteria in the mouth, which may lead to the buildup of plaque may cause the taste bud get the taste in the mouth wrong.
Also, constant visit to the dentist for issues such as periodontitis and cavities may require dental fillings, and consequently, change in taste.
Apart from medication used to treat cancer through chemotherapy, there are some medication that have metal taste in the mouth, or general change of taste, as one of their side effects. Antibiotics, medications for osteoporosis, blood pressure medications, and some medications used to treat eye defects, such as glaucoma have these properties.
Sometimes, over-the-counter medications, such as multivitamins that contain minerals – zinc and copper – may be the cause. Prenatal vitamins can also cause metal taste in your mouth.
Exposure to certain chemicals
To taste metal in your mouth, there is either an abundance of metal in your system, or the presence of metals where they shouldn’t be. One other possible factor that may cause you to taste metal in your mouth is an exposure to heavy metals, such as mercury and lead.
A lot of things happen during pregnancy. However, in the early stages of pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, the sense of taste changes, and may possibly lead to having metallic taste in the mouth.
Also, to curb nausea and morning sickness, some pregnant ladies use prenatal vitamins, they may cause it too.
Some foods may cause allergies that are characterized by distorted sense of taste. Such food may include nuts, or seafood.
Issues with the Central Nervous System
The central nervous system is the place where all information that needs to be transmitted to different parts of the body are processed. A problem with the central nervous system, depending on which part is affected, may lead to a distortion in the sense of taste.
When an ear infection requires surgery, there is a risk that the inner ear may be tampered; the chorda tympani may be damaged, and that can cause a distortion to the affected individual’s sense of taste.
How to Deal with Your Mouth That Tastes Like Metal
Working with the causes that have been highlighted above, it is possible to address the metallic taste in your mouth. Follow these guides and you may be on your way to regaining your sense of taste.
- Stop smoking
- Practice good oral hygiene
- Drink enough water
- Avoid food substances that you may be allergic to
- Chew sugar-free gums, preferably with mint
- Avoid the use of metallic cooking utensils
When your mouth tastes like metal, it could be from many possible causes; some of them, easy to address, others requiring the attention of a professional medical practitioner. Regardless of the cause, it is not easy to diagnose the cause as it is a symptom that has other symptoms.
However, for a temporary restoration of normalcy to your taste, you can employ any of the tips provided in this article.