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A complaint of a chronic salty taste in the mouth can result from a number of things all of which can alter saliva composition or saliva flow.

The cause can be systemic in origin and can serve as a pointer to the need for deeper investigation or it can be local, resulting from anatomical structures in close proximity to the teeth.

Here, we'll discuss some of the more common causes which should be investigated.

Dehydration

Your body could be dehydrated for a number of reasons, but all of them will result in you having a salty taste in the mouth. This is because disturbances of the fluid balance in the body alter saliva composition.

The serous (watery) content of the saliva is decreased and this can leads to a concentration of other minerals such as sodium in the saliva leading to a salty taste in the mouth.

Medication side effect

A number of medications that are commonly prescribed to patients for a wide variety of ailments can cause a reduction in saliva flow. It is important to meet your doctor and discuss this possible side effect that you are having and if possible your medication should be changed to another which does not have this effect on your saliva.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy

A common problem for patients suffering from cancer is the effect the treatment has on their bodies. One of these is a decreased saliva flow in the body and an altered taste sensation.

In the case of cancers of the head and neck region, the patient may have to undergo radiotherapy of the head and neck which directly causes damage to the salivary glands caught in the line of fire. This is an unfortunate necessity as treating the cancer aggressively is essential.

In this case the patient has to manage with salivary substitutes as well as medication that increases the saliva flow however many times complete return to normalcy is not possible.

Postnasal drip

Excessive mucus production due to irritation of the sinuses (infection or allergy may be the cause) can result in a post nasal drip where some amount of mucus flows into the oral cavity, causing an alteration of taste.

The presence of sinusitis will be known by the other symptoms such as a heaviness in the head, drowsiness and extremely deep sleep as well however there are rare cases where the sinusitis is relatively symptom free.

Neurological disorder

The tongue is innervated by a number of different nerves which supply the different types of taste receptors on the tongue and are responsible for sending back the taste sensation signals to our brain.

There can be a deeper underlying nerve disorder that causes an alteration of taste.

A lesion in the brain can also cause this alteration in taste, however a simpler answer is much more likely.

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