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    Metallic Taste in the Mouth: What Does It Mean?

    Metallic Taste in the Mouth: What Does It Mean?
    Published 03 February 2020
    Fact Checked
    Tanya Tantry, MD
    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
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    Every so often our bodies create strange sensations — the occasional shiver, a phantom smell, or a sudden metallic taste in the mouth. If you’re experiencing a weird taste in your mouth, read on. We’ve outlined what causes a metallic taste in your mouth.

    Causes of metallic taste in the mouth

    Most people will experience a metallic taste in their mouth at least once. It’s usually not a sign of anything serious. 

    There are lots of things that can cause an iron taste in your mouth. If you regularly experience a copper, iron, or bitter taste in your mouth, take a look at these 8 possible reasons and see if one of them fits your situation.

    Poor oral hygiene

    If you don’t take care of your mouth properly, you can develop various issues. Some of these can lead to a bad taste in your mouth. 

    Taking care of our mouths goes much deeper than the occasional brushing. When you don’t practice proper oral hygiene, you leave your mouth open to developing problems such as:

    • Bad breath: If you don’t brush your teeth after you eat, those food particles will remain in your mouth, break down, and cause bad breath.
    • Cavities: When you don’t brush or floss, plaque settles onto your teeth and starts to eat away at the enamel. 
    • Tooth decay/loss: If those cavities go too deep below the gumline, the tooth might die. You may be forced to have them extracted. 
    • Gum disease: Gum disease happens when plaque slips between the gum and the teeth. It can attack your gums as well as your teeth, which causes bleeding during brushing, bad breath, and occasionally, a metallic taste in the mouth.

    Gum disease is a common culprit of a metallic taste in the mouth. Other oral issues that may cause this weird taste include periodontitis, tooth infection, or gingivitis. If you have one of these infections, your dentist can give you medication to clear it up. The metallic taste should fade once the infection is healed. 

    Over-the-counter vitamins

    Sometimes the metallic taste is simply a by-product of a vitamin or mineral supplement you’re taking. 

    Certain supplements or over-the-counter products can cause a metallic taste in your mouth simply because there are high doses of metallic minerals in the product. Some of these products are:

    • Cough drops: Some lozenges are high in zinc. Zinc has been shown to stop certain viruses. Using zinc can help you get over a cold more quickly, but too much can cause an iron taste in the mouth. 
    • Multivitamins: Each multivitamin is different. Some of them have high doses of heavy metal minerals such as chromium, zinc, and copper. Daily use of these vitamins may cause a metallic or sour taste in the mouth. 
    • Prenatal vitamins: Prenatal vitamins can sometimes cause a copper taste in the mouth. If the taste is too strong, check different brands and compare the levels of minerals. You may find that a particular brand works better for you than others.
    • Specific supplements: Iron and calcium supplements are great if you need them, but they can create a metal taste in your mouth. 

    Usually, the metallic taste will fade as you digest the product and the vitamins and minerals are dispersed. If the taste is quite strong and doesn’t fade for a long time, check the packaging. You could be taking a dose too high for your body to process. If you’re not sure, bring the package to your health care provider and tell them how much you’re taking. They may suggest a different dosage. 

    Cancer treatments

    There are many therapies and methods today to treat cancer. Some of them can cause a weird taste in the mouth. 

    Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are rough on the body. Technology is constantly advancing, so we’re able to get closer to the cancer cells and use less radiation to kill them. Even these lesser doses of radiation can give you a metallic taste in the mouth. 


    Certain infections can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. 

    If you have any of these infections, you may experience a metallic taste in the mouth. 

    • Upper respiratory infections
    • Sinusitis
    • Common cold

    These infections may change or alter your sense of taste. This can give you a metallic taste in your mouth. Your taste usually returns to normal after the infection is healed.


    During pregnancy, the body goes through many changes. One of those changes may be sense of taste. 

    Strange tastes in the mouth is a common symptom of early pregnancy. This is due to swiftly changing hormones and vitamin balances in the body as the fetus develops.

    Chemical exposure

    Being exposed to high doses of chemicals can affect your body. They tend to affect the part of the body that is most exposed. 

    If you inhale large amounts of chemicals like lead or mercury, you’ll experience a metallic taste in your mouth. If you work with these chemicals or are in an unfamiliar area and suddenly experience a metallic taste, you may be getting exposed to these chemicals.


    People who have dementia often experience strange tastes because their brain is sending abnormal signals to the taste buds. They may get a metallic taste in their mouths whether they have eaten anything or not. 

    Prescription drugs

    Certain medications can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. As your body absorbs the medication, some of it comes out in your mouth’s saliva and can cause a metallic taste. 

    Some of those drugs include:

    • Tetracycline: An antibiotic
    • Allopurinol:  Used to treat gout
    • Lithium: A medication for psychiatric conditions
    • Antidepressants: Cause dry mouth, which inhibits the ability of your taste buds to function normally

    Ways to prevent metallic taste in the mouth

    Chewing gum helps to mask metallic taste in the mouth

    If you’ve been wondering, “Why is there a metallic taste in my mouth,” you must figure out the cause and then eradicate it.

    But this isn’t always easy. It can take a while to figure out what’s causing the issue. There are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of metal your mouth is exposed to. You can also try to mask the metallic taste until you find out what’s causing it. Try some of these options:

    • Sugar-free gum: It can mask the taste of metal in the mouth.
    • Regular oral hygiene: This can reduce the taste of metal in the mouth. 
    • Nonmetallic dishware: Use nonmetal dishes and silverware when cooking and eating.
    • Stop smoking: Avoid smoking to reduce the chance of dry mouth, which increases the metal taste. 
    • Check your medications: Your medications may be the culprit. Check them with your health care professional to see if you need to change your dosage to reduce the taste.

    When to see a doctor

    Generally, an occasional metallic taste in the mouth is not a big concern. There are a couple of things to remember, however.

    Be sure to contact your doctor if you have:

    • A persistent metallic taste that doesn’t go away, no matter what you eat or drink
    • A metallic taste that has no obvious cause

    A consistent metallic taste in the mouth with no obvious cause can be serious. It could be the result of a head injury or a neurological disorder or a sign of a serious illness. 


    The best thing to do if you are experiencing a metallic taste in the mouth is to find the culprit. 

    Go through your daily vitamins and medications. Check your oral hygiene habits. Do you have a sinus infection or an ear infection? Do some detective work and find out what could be causing the sensation. 

    If you’re struggling to find out exactly what’s causing it or the taste becomes persistent, then talk to your doctor to make sure you’re not missing something deeper.

    History of updates
    Current version (03 February 2020)
    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
    29 January 2020
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