When you snack on a bowl of potato chips or enjoy a basket of French fries, a salty taste in your mouth is expected. But what if you wake up to a salty taste or experience a salty taste in your mouth throughout the day, even when you haven’t eaten anything?
There are many potential causes of a salty taste in the mouth that can range from dehydration to underlying medical conditions.
Here we will take a deeper look at what may be causing your salty taste and if it is something to be concerned about.
- Salty taste in mouth can be caused by dehydration, dry mouth, infections, medication side effects, or health conditions.
- Post-nasal drip, pregnancy, nutritional deficiency, and GERD can also affect taste.
- Treatments depend on the cause, like drinking more water or treating dental issues.
- Talk to your healthcare provider if you have a salty taste often or with concerning symptoms.
- Good oral health is important, so visit your dentist for regular checkups.
What causes a salty taste in the mouth?
In most cases, experiencing a salty taste in the mouth is due to what you eat. However, there are some cases where a salty taste can be a sign of an underlying problem. Here we look at some of the most common causes of that salty taste.
Your normal saliva contains a small amount of natural salt, though you probably never notice it. However, when you are not drinking enough fluids or have other conditions that contribute to dehydration, your natural saliva becomes concentrated. With less fluid, the natural salt concentrations increase, leaving a salty taste in the mouth.
Known as xerostomia, dry mouth is a condition that occurs when the salivary glands fail to produce enough saliva. Similar to dehydration, this reduced saliva production leads to an increased concentration of salt and can lead to a salty or metallic taste in the mouth. Dry mouth is a common condition as people age and women enter menopause, but it is also linked to autoimmune conditions and can occur when you are taking certain medications. Sugar-free gum or lozenges can help stimulate saliva production and help ease symptoms, including the salty taste.
Oral infection or injury
Dental infections, oral infections, or gum disease can cause oral bleeding which can contribute to a salty or metallic taste in the mouth. Once the infection resolves or the gum disease is treated, this change in taste is likely to resolve.
Medication side effects
Certain medications can contribute to a reduction in saliva production, leading to dry mouth. Medication with dry mouth as a potential side effect can include:
- Chemotherapy agents
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
Allergies and sinus infections can lead to a continual post-nasal drip. As nasal mucus drains into the throat, it can contribute to changes in both your taste and smell. In addition, many with these conditions are taking antihistamines which can further alter the normal mucosa and contribute to a salty taste in your mouth.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect just about everything, including your taste and smell. A common pregnancy condition known as pregnancy rhinitis causes post-nasal drip and a runny nose, which, as mentioned above, can contribute to changes in your normal taste.
Nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, play an important role in your overall health. When you lack the right amount of nutrients, it can contribute to negative changes. For example, a deficiency in zinc or vitamin B-12 can contribute to taste disorders.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Frequent heartburn, acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) can cause stomach acid to leak up into the esophagus, leaving a sour or salty taste in the mouth. This usually returns to normal as the acid settles, or you take antacids to treat the heartburn.
Autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus can increase the risk of developing Sjogren’s syndrome, a condition that affects the salivary glands and significantly reduces saliva production.
Nerves within the brain play a vital role in your smell and taste. When these signals are disrupted, you may experience changes in your taste, such as a salty taste in your mouth. This is very rare but can be a sign of brain injury. It is usually accompanied by headaches, seizures, and visual changes.
Treating a salty taste in the mouth will depend on the underlying conditions responsible for the change. For example, if dehydration is a problem, treatment would include an increase in water intake. Dry mouth from conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome will require regular medication to stimulate saliva production as this can not only affect your taste but also contribute to dental decay.
If your taste changes are due to oral conditions such as decay or periodontal disease, your dentist is likely to recommend addressing any decay or cavities as needed, maintaining a regular routine of brushing and flossing, as well as a dental cleaning or deep cleaning in the case of gum disease.
When should you be concerned?
In most cases, a salty taste in the mouth is not a medical emergency, but it is something that you should talk with your healthcare provider about. If you start experiencing a salty taste in your mouth on a routine basis, make an appointment with your healthcare provider in order to determine what may be causing this problem.
If you experience any of these symptoms along with a salty taste, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible:
- Changes to your voice
- Lump in the neck or regular sore throats
- Swelling in the front of your ear or underneath your jaw where the salivary glands are located
- Difficulty chewing
- Problems swallowing
Paying attention to your oral and overall health
While a change in your taste may not seem like a big deal unless it lingers for days on end, a salty taste in your mouth can be a sign of an underlying condition that may need to be addressed. If you have dental issues, such as decay or gum disease, visit your dentist as soon as possible. If not, it is a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider about any possible underlying medical conditions that may require treatment.
Helping you achieve good oral health
Oftentimes, that salty taste you are experiencing can be due to dental decay, abscesses, or gum disease. At Soundview Family Dental, your oral health is our priority. Our team of dedicated professionals will address your dental concerns and get your taste back to normal in no time.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.