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What Causes Sour Tongue and How to Prevent it

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Sour cream is great on a baked potato. Heavy metal is great to work out to. But a sour or metallic taste in your mouth is not great. Occasional bad tastes are one thing, perhaps triggered by too many cups of coffee. But when it becomes more frequent, that sour taste is worth getting to the bottom of it. What's the cause of these sour and metallic tastes? What does it mean? How can you prevent it? Check out all of those answers below.

What Causes the Condition?

Before getting to the cause, let's identify it first. What you may be experiencing is commonly referred to as dysgeusia (or parageusia). This taste disorder leaves your tongue and mouth with a very unpleasant lingering sensation. It's often described as a bitter, metallic, or sour taste perception. And many factors could cause it. Taste disorders, like dysgeusia, can be caused by:

  • Infection
    Infections to your teeth, gums, mouth, or throat cause swelling, reduce taste bud blood flow, and can alter your taste.
  • Inflammation
    Taste pores can close up if your tongue is swollen and inflamed.
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
    Shortages in certain minerals and vitamins, especially B12 and zinc, can affect your sense of taste.
  • Dry mouth
    When there's a lack of saliva flow, dry mouth is very common, causing your taste receptors to not being stimulated.
  • Medication side effects
    ACE inhibitors, antibiotics, diuretics, and chemotherapy agents can all affect your ability to taste.
  • Nerve damage or trauma
    If you've been in a traumatic accident on the tongue, neck, or have had Bell's palsy or other ear surgeries, your taste could be affected.
  • Neurologic disorders
    MS, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease can all decrease your taste.
  • Metabolic changes
    Kidney disease, diabetes, pregnancy, and hypothyroidism can all cause taste disturbances.
  • Tobacco use
    All forms of tobacco (smoking, chewing tobacco, etc.) can affect your tongue, throat, mouth, and tasting ability.
  • Acid reflux or GERD
    Suffers of gastroesophageal reflux disease often experience a sour taste in their mouth.
  • Oral hygiene
    Bad breath and an unpleasant taste in your mouth can be attributed to poor oral hygiene — making proper oral care and regular dental check-ups imperative.

Ways to Prevent Sour Tongue

Preventing and treating sour tongue or dysgeusia really depends on the cause of it. There are many things that you could try. To maintain your oral hygiene, the National Health Portal of India recommends:

  • Brush thoroughly twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush.
    Eat fruits which are rich in Vitamin C.
  • Eat a healthy diet and avoid snacks in between meals.
    Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are frayed.
  • Rinse your mouth after every meal.
    Schedule dental check-ups after every 6 months.
  • Floss daily to remove food particles that get stuck in between teeth and to remove plaque.
    Don’t brush too hard. Over brushing erodes the enamel and irritates the gums. So, brush your teeth back and forth gently.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol consumption as they are the prime causes of oral cancer.
    Use tongue cleaner every morning to remove tongue plaque and freshen your breath.
  • Avoid food and drinks which contain high sugar content to prevent tooth decay.

Sometimes, the cause of a sour tongue is out of your hands. And sometimes, your sense of taste will return to normal after you've taken all of your medication, delivered your baby, or managed your GERD. But you and your dentist can do your part to eliminate the sour taste by caring for your teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth. Which, is actually pretty sweet.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.