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Oral Piercings and Metallic Taste

Oral Piercings and Metallic Taste

Tongue, lip, and cheek piercings can sometimes cause a bothersome metallic taste in your mouth. This unusual sensation is common but typically harmless. Understanding the potential causes and how to minimize the metal flavor can help you adjust to your new oral piercing.

Why Do Piercings Cause a Metallic Taste?

There are a few reasons oral piercings can lead to a metal mouth sensation:

Initial Piercing Trauma

When you first get your tongue, lip, or cheek pierced, some bleeding and mixing of blood with your saliva is normal. The iron in blood has a metallic taste, so this temporary bleeding can cause a metal flavor for the first few days as the area starts healing. However, the blood and metal taste should diminish within a week as initial swelling goes down.

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Biofilm Buildup

Even after healing, oral piercings are prone to biofilm buildup. Biofilms are thin sticky layers of bacteria, proteins, and metals that coat the surface of the jewelry. Small amounts of this biofilm coating can mix with your saliva as the piercing shifts around in your mouth, leading to a mild metallic flavor. Denser buildup that flakes off can make the taste more pronounced.

Galvanic Reactions

Galvanic reactions can also contribute to a metal mouth. Different metals have different electrical charges. When two dissimilar metal materials are in contact with an electrolytic solution like saliva, a small electrical current is generated. This current essentially corrodes the metals through oxidation, releasing more metallic ions into your mouth that alter the taste.

Jewelry Materials and Coatings

The composition and quality of the jewelry itself also plays a role. Low-quality metals like nickel often impart a metallic flavor. But even high-grade surgical steel or titanium can have coatings that wear off over time, exposing the base metal and causing a metal taste.

Read: Fighting Metallic Taste With Your Diet

Strategies to Minimize the Metallic Taste

While you probably won’t be able to eliminate a metal mouth completely, these tips can help reduce the intensity:

  • Stick with high-quality jewelry metals. Surgical titanium, niobium, and solid 14k+ gold are less likely to cause metal flavor. Avoid cheap nickel jewelry.
  • Keep piercings and jewelry very clean. Regularly remove debris and soak or brush jewelry to prevent heavy biofilm buildup.
  • Use MetaQil Metallic Taste Rinse to combat with metal taste.
  • Use an oral piercing rinse to help clean bacteria and debris from the piercing site.
  • Suck on mints, chew gum, or drink something flavorful to help temporarily mask or override the metal taste after eating.
  • See your piercer to have jewelry replaced or resized if needed, as improper fit can increase friction, trauma, and biofilm.
  • Remove oral piercings while eating, sleeping, or playing contact sports to give the area a rest and minimize irritation.
  • Avoid playing with or clicking the jewelry against your teeth as this can exacerbate galvanic reactions.
  • Get non-metallic retainers or plastic balls if changing jewelry isn’t an option but the metal taste is strong.

With proper piercing care and high-quality, compatible jewelry metals, the metallic taste of a new tongue, lip, or cheek piercing should mellow over time. But if it persists or worsens, consult your piercer or doctor to rule out infection or other complications requiring treatment.