Salty Taste In Mouth Explained - Savina Dental Clinics Malta

Waking up with a salty taste in the mouth can be disconcerting. Whether the salty taste is accompanied by other symptoms or not, it is important to consult a medical expert to get the issue diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

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10 possible causes of salty taste in your mouth

There are many possible explanations for why you may have a salty taste in your mouth. Some may stem from injury or infection in the oral cavity, but others result from infection or health complications in other areas of the body. Here are the ten most common possible causes:

Oral infection

Oral infection, especially periodontitis, can cause a salty taste in your mouth. Periodontitis usually results from untreated gingivitis. If it progresses untreated, it may also lead to lasting deformities on jawbones and teeth.

Other oral infections which can cause a salty taste in the mouth include oral thrush and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

Oral bleeding

If there is bleeding in your mouth, especially around the gums, this will cause a salty taste. Some oral bleeding occurs from an injury when eating hard and crunchy foods such as potato crisps and candy. The injury can also result from trauma during brushing or flossing. Some oral bleeding after brushing or flossing can also be an early indicator of gingivitis.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

If you experience a long-lasting salty taste in the mouth, the culprit is most likely gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The disease is characterized by the weakening of the oesophagal sphincter, which, in turn, allows stomach acid to escape up the food pipe ending in the mouth cavity. The most common symptom of GERD is a persistent burning sensation in the chest. This is often accompanied by an unpleasant taste in the mouth, variably described as bitter, salty or sour.

Post-nasal drip

The term post-nasal drip refers to the situation where excess mucus accumulates in the nasal passage, and some of it ends up dripping down the back of the mouth to the throat. The mucus drops end up mixing with the saliva being generated in the mouth’s salivary glands, giving it a distinctive salty taste.

Sjögren’s syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is an immune system disorder. It leads to the disrupted function of moisture-secreting glands such as salivary glands and tear glands. As such, an individual with Sjögren’s syndrome may experience dry eyes and mouth. A dry, dehydrated mouth cavity can have a particular salty taste to it.

Side effects of certain medications

Certain medications can cause various side effects, including a salty taste in the mouth. It is worth noting that it is not just oral medication such as tablets or capsules that can lead to these side effects. Some people get a salty taste in the mouth as a consequence of receiving injections and medical drips.

Hormonal imbalances

Much of the body’s processes are controlled or regulated by hormones, and if certain hormones are either secreted in greater or lesser amounts than the optimal range, this can lead to side effects, including a salty taste in the mouth.

Nutritional deficiency

If the body doesn’t have enough nutritional elements, this can lead to symptoms such as a salty taste in the mouth. This is especially true when it comes to certain vitamins and essential minerals. Nutritional deficiency can be addressed by taking relevant nutritional supplements.

Dry mouth

Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth is a condition caused by the salivary glands’ inability to produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. Taking certain medications can lead to xerostomia, which is also a common side effect of the radiation therapy in the head and neck region used to treat cancer.


Dehydration, a term used to describe a severe and harmful reduction in the amount of water in the body, is often a cause of a salty taste in the mouth. Dehydration can happen either as a result of lack of water intake or excessive loss of body water either through vomiting, diarrhoea or sweat.

Salty taste diagnosis

Salty taste diagnosis - savina dental clinics

Some causes of a salty taste in the mouth are often easy to identify while others are more subtle. A doctor diagnosing the cause of salty taste in the mouth will begin by examining the mouth and teeth for any signs of injury, infection or cavities. The doctor will also question the patient about their diet, lifestyle and any medication they may be on. The information gleaned from examination and interview with the patient will help rule out some causes while narrowing in on the cause of the problem. It may be necessary to carry out some laboratory tests to confirm the actual cause of the salty taste.

Treatment options

If the salty taste is caused by injury or infection, the solution is to treat the condition or wait for the injury to heal by itself. A doctor can also recommend some medication once the cause has been identified. For instance, if the cause of the salty taste is acid reflux, a prescription of antacids will help.

Medication alone may not be sufficient to get rid of the salty taste in the mouth in some instances and may require more invasive interventions.

As you await a doctor’s diagnosis or prescription, there are some effective home remedies you can try to clear the salty sensation. Regular brushing and flossing is recommended. Also, consider using an antibacterial, alcohol-free rinse after brushing your teeth.

Other effective remedies include chewing sugar-free gum, increasing your water intake and cutting down on tobacco and alcohol.

Are there any possible complications?

You should not ignore the sensation of a salty taste in the mouth persisting for more than a few days, even if it appears mild at first. This is because the sensation could indicate a much more serious health issue. If the issue is left untreated, it could lead to serious complications later. You are advised to consult a doctor when you start experiencing the taste, especially if there is a constant change to the sensation on the tongue and back of the mouth.

There is a wide range of possible explanations for why you may be experiencing a salty taste in your mouth. While some causes of the unpleasant sensation are often benign and short-lived, others are more serious. A qualified medical doctor will first diagnose the problem before recommending appropriate remedies and treatment.

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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at its disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.