Salty Taste in Mouth

Causes and Remedies

April 8, 2024 Written By: Joyce Kahng, DDS

Have you ever noticed a lingering salty taste in your mouth that you can’t quite explain? While an occasional salty tang might just be the remnants of a snack, a persistent salty flavor could signal various underlying issues.

Below, we’ll explore what might be behind that unusual salty sensation, when it’s time to see a professional, and what you can do about it.

What Causes a Salty Taste in Your Mouth?

Several factors can contribute to that persistent salty flavor. Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Dehydration: When you’re not drinking enough fluids, your body tries to conserve water. This leads to a higher concentration of salt in your saliva, making it taste saltier than usual.
  • Dry Mouth: Dry mouth, a condition where your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, can be caused by medications, medical conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome, or even habitual mouth breathing. The lack of saliva allows the existing salt to become more noticeable.
  • Postnasal Drip: Allergies, sinus infections, or even the common cold can lead to excess mucus production. When this mucus drips down the back of your throat (postnasal drip), it can carry a salty taste into your mouth.
  • Oral Infections: Dental issues like gum disease, tooth abscesses, or infections in your mouth can produce fluids that taste salty or even metallic. These infections often cause inflammation and other unpleasant symptoms as well.

What Can You Do?

While a salty taste in your mouth can be bothersome, there are steps you can take to address it:

  • Hydrate: Drinking plenty of water is essential for good health in general, and it also helps keep your saliva balanced. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water daily.
  • Address Dry Mouth: If dry mouth is the issue, try sipping water frequently, chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production, or using over-the-counter saliva substitutes. If your dry mouth persists, talk to your doctor, as some medications can cause this issue.
  • Step Up Your Oral Hygiene: Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is crucial. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and don’t forget regular dental cleanings and checkups. Good oral hygiene helps eliminate potential sources of infection that can cause bad tastes.
  • Manage Nasal Congestion: If postnasal drip is contributing to the salty taste, over-the-counter decongestants or saline nasal sprays might help clear up your sinuses. For persistent allergies or sinus problems, consult with your doctor.
  • Review Medications: Talk to your doctor about any medications you’re taking, as some can cause dry mouth or alter your taste perception. Your doctor may be able to suggest alternatives if your medication is a likely cause.

When Should I See My Dentist?

While a salty taste on its own might be temporary, it’s crucial to pay attention to other symptoms and how long the taste lasts. Make an appointment with your dentist if you experience:

  • Salty taste along with gum inflammation, bleeding, or loose teeth: These could be signs of advanced gum disease (periodontitis), which requires professional treatment to prevent further damage and potential tooth loss.
  • Persistent bad breath or other strange tastes: When a salty taste lingers along with bad breath, a metallic flavor, or a sweet taste, it’s important to see your dentist. This could signify various problems ranging from infections to cavities, which can worsen if left untreated.
  • Dry mouth that doesn’t improve with simple solutions: If drinking more water and other home remedies don’t seem to help, it could indicate a medical condition or medication side effect that needs further investigation. Your dentist might be able to point you in the right direction or work in collaboration with your doctor.
  • Concerns about your overall oral health: Dentists are trained to identify subtle signs of problems that might be contributing to the salty taste. Regular checkups allow them to catch small issues before they become major, saving you time, discomfort, and potentially expensive treatment down the road.

Remember, your dentist is an important partner in your overall health. Don’t hesitate to reach out if a lingering salty taste or other oral symptoms are causing you concern. Early diagnosis and treatment often lead to the best outcomes.

How a Dentist May Address the Issue

If you visit your dentist about a persistent salty taste, they’ll take a multi-pronged approach. First, they’ll gather information about your medical history, any medications you take, and other symptoms you’re experiencing, as these can offer valuable clues. Next, comes a thorough examination of your mouth, teeth, and gums. They’ll specifically look for signs of gum disease (like inflammation and bleeding), tooth decay (cavities), infections, or evidence of dry mouth, all of which can contribute to an unpleasant salty taste.

Based on their assessment, your dentist might recommend a variety of treatments. A professional cleaning can significantly improve gum health and remove plaque and tartar deposits—a common source of bad tastes. If gum disease is advanced, more intensive procedures might be necessary to restore tissue health. Cavities need to be filled to remove the source of infection and improve taste issues. Your dentist will also address any abscesses or other infections with appropriate treatment. Lastly, if they suspect an underlying medical condition or medication side effect is behind the salty taste and dry mouth, they might suggest a consultation with your physician for further evaluation and management.

Taking Good Care of Your Oral Health

A salty taste in your mouth might be a temporary annoyance caused by something simple like dehydration. However, paying attention to that taste, especially if persistent or accompanied by other symptoms, is crucial for overall health. Stay hydrated, practice excellent oral hygiene, and don’t hesitate to consult your dentist or doctor if concerns arise.

Understanding the potential causes and solutions allows you to take proactive steps for a healthier mouth and a better overall sense of well-being.

Smile Smarter,
Dr. Joyce

Logo(0) / Huffpost / - Dr. JoyceLogo(1) / Newsweek / - Dr. JoyceLogo(2) / Insider / - Dr. JoyceLogo(3) / Bustle / - Dr. JoyceLogo(4) / Mic / - Dr. JoyceLogo(5) / Well + Good / - Dr. JoyceLogo(6) / Popsugar / - Dr. JoyceLogo(7) / US News / - Dr. Joyce