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What Causes Sour Tongue and How to Prevent it

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If you've had the experience of a sour taste on your tongue, or a metallic or bitter taste in your mouth, it may not just be from your pleasant morning cup of coffee, but could point to an underlying health condition. Having an occasional bad taste in your mouth typically isn't a cause for concern if you're otherwise healthy, notes the Cleveland Clinic. But if you're finding that it's frequent, you should find out what conditions might be contributing to the problem, and what you can do to prevent it.

What Causes the Condition?

Dysgeusia, is an altered ability to taste, according to OncoLink, and can occur for several reasons. First, you should know that the taste sensation can be sensed on any area of your tongue. In fact, the idea that you only pick up certain tastes, like sour, on specific areas of your tongue is inaccurate, reports LiveScience. Dysgeusia is a dysfunction of the sense of taste which can result in a metal, sourness or bitterness taste in your mouth. There are several things that could cause it:

  • Women who are pregnant can experience any number of altered taste sensations during this time. Hormonal shifts may cause a sour taste throughout pregnancy, or just in the beginning.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease can also be a direct cause, as stomach contents and acids wash back into the esophagus, creating a sour taste in your mouth, says the Mayo Clinic.
  • Prescription drug use, vitamins or over-the-counter medicine can also cause dysgeusia. Certain drugs, if used over long periods, can create a metallic and sometimes bitter or sour taste. The Cleveland Clinic notes that some antibiotics, such as tetracycline, or vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, can result in this condition.
  • Cancer patients on a chemotherapy regimen also experience dysgeusia, largely due to the different types of drugs used during treatment.
  • For some, dysgeusia may point to a more serious problem, such as infection, dementia, a neurological disorder or even exposure to certain chemicals, like lead.

However, a sour tongue can also be a symptom of poor oral hygiene, too. Missed dental checkups or low attention to your daily oral care can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria, which can result in frequent bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth.

Ways to Prevent Sour Tongue

A few key reasons you're experiencing this unpleasant sour taste has to do with the pH levels of the bacteria present in your mouth and the food you eat. On the spectrum of taste, sourness is caused by a higher level of acidity, notes Scientific American. If you've been experiencing this condition for a while, it's a good idea to make an appointment with both your doctor and dentist to find out the cause.

But, the first step you should take is to make sure your oral care is up to par. Brushing and flossing regularly and using a rinse like Colgate Total Advance Pro-Shield, which kills 99 percent of bacteria on contact, will stave off bad breath and bad tastes.

Even if you're taking certain medications for an illness, have already been diagnosed with a condition like GERD or one that is neurological, you can take steps to help prevent this frustrating condition:

  • Cancer Treatment Centers of America advises rinsing regularly with water. A solution of water and baking soda can help neutralize the acids that can cause the sour taste.
  • Chewing gum stimulates your saliva flow and the alkaline base in saliva can also help eliminate the bad taste.
  • Avoid foods that may irritate your stomach, like tomatoes, citrus fruits, caffeine, chocolate or soda, which can lead to higher levels of acid reflux.
  • If the cause is neurological, experiment with seasoning and marinades when preparing your food.

If you're pregnant, have GERD or are stopping a medication, your normal sense of taste may return. However, keep in mind that a sour taste on your tongue may point to an underlying cause, and practicing good oral care is ultimately the best way to prevent it.

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.

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