Bad taste in mouth: Causes, treatment, and prevention

Asian Woman Covering Her Mouth with Hands
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni

Key Takeaways

  • Home remedies like gargling and dental care can help with short-term bad tastes, while persistent issues may signal underlying health problems.
  • Dry mouth, gum disease, systemic conditions, and medications are frequent causes of an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
  • Consult a healthcare professional for persistent bad taste, provide detailed information about medications and symptoms, and consider temporary relief with mouthwash or chewing gum.


Are you getting irritated from the bad taste in your mouth around the clock? There could be several reasons for that, some non-serious, some serious. Some of the common reasons for an unpleasant taste in your mouth are bad oral hygiene, gum disease, fever, sinus infection, or medications you are taking to treat any other medical condition. Without any severe cause, bad taste can vanish in some days. However, if the bad taste persists for several days or weeks, it may indicate an underlying issue beyond dietary factors. Maintaining oral hygiene through daily brushing, flossing, and mouthwash is important to prevent bacterial buildup that can lead to an unpleasant taste.

Why do I have a bad taste in my mouth?

Bad taste in the mouth can be due to various reasons, from mild to severe underlying health conditions. Whatever the cause is, the problem is bothersome. Here is a list of some of the leading causes of a bad taste in the mouth: 

Dry mouth

A dry mouth, or xerostomia, can also cause a horrible taste in your mouth. This condition occurs when salivary glands fail to produce sufficient saliva, leading to a dry, sticky sensation. Common causes of dry mouth can be prescribed medications, health conditions such as diabetes, cancer therapy, smoking, a blocked nose, or aging. Saliva, crucial for oral health, is a natural buffer, removing food debris and bacteria after meals.

 Persistent dry mouth, known as xerostomia, requires lifestyle adjustments, medication modifications, and over-the-counter or prescription mouth rinses for relief.

says Dr Richard Honekar

Moreover, the cause may be bacteria feeding coupon the food stuck in your mouth due to poor oral hygiene.

Metallic taste indicates gastrointestinal problems.
Consult a doctor for a healthy stomach within minutes.

Gum disease

Neglecting dental health can lead to gum diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis, causing bad breath and a metallic taste. One such condition is acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, which is a severe condition that can trigger bad breath and a metallic taste and require immediate attention.

Systemic conditions

Systemic conditions affecting nerves in the brain, such as tumors, dementia, or head trauma, can influence taste. Medications used to treat neurological conditions may also cause an unusual taste, typically resolving after addressing the underlying condition.

Sinus infections

Sinus infections can contribute to a bad taste in the mouth. Additionally, sinusitis, colds, and middle ear infections can affect taste and smell, presenting symptoms such as congestion, earache, and sore throat.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

In GERD, the stomach contents move back into the esophagus, causing symptoms of heartburn, nausea, vomiting, heaviness, abdominal pain, and coughing. The stomach contains acids that can react with bacteria in the mouth and esophagus lining, producing a foul smell and a sour taste in your mouth. 

Management involves lifestyle changes, avoiding trigger foods, eating smaller meals, and maintaining a healthy weight, says Dr Richard Honekar 


Taking antibiotics may have side effects on your sense of taste, leaving you with an unpleasant flavor in your mouth. If you’re seeking ways to alleviate the bad taste caused by antibiotics, consider using a tongue cleaner or a saltwater rinse.

OTC medications such as anti-inflammatories and antihistamines can affect your sense of taste. Prescription medications, including cardiac medications (ace inhibitors, calcium channel blockers), diabetes medications (Trulicity, Ozempic), HIV protease inhibitors, oral contraceptives (Yasmin, Yaz), anti-seizure agents, antibiotics (amoxicillin, cephalexin), and antidepressants (citalopram, escitalopram), are potential contributors to an unusual taste sensation.


 Ingesting vitamins and supplements, particularly in large amounts, can induce a metallic taste in your mouth. Common culprits include calcium, chromium, copper, iron, multivitamins, or prenatal vitamins containing heavy metals, vitamin D, and zinc—known to trigger nausea. 

If you experience these taste disturbances, adjusting your supplement intake may be beneficial. Over-the-counter or Prescription medications

Dental issues and poor oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene, including gingivitis and oral thrush, can manifest as an unpleasant taste. Regular flossing, brushing, and tongue cleaning are essential for oral health. It can cause a buildup of microbial infections, causing bad taste in the mouth. 

Tooth infections can cause bad breath and taste in mouth. Take the hint and see a doctor for your infection

Oral thrush

Oral thrush, a yeast infection of the mouth, can cause a bitter taste, along with symptoms like white bumps, redness, burning, trouble swallowing, and dry mouth. Prevention includes maintaining good oral hygiene and limiting sugar intake.


Viral infections stand out as a prevalent trigger for an unpleasant taste in the mouth. If you find yourself experiencing a metallic taste accompanied by nausea, these could be early indicators of Hepatitis B and potential liver-related issues. 

It’s crucial to consult with a medical professional for proper evaluation for appropriate diagnosis in case of infection susceptibility.

says Dr Richard Honekar

In contrast, a compromised sense of taste may result from viral infections like tonsillitis or the common cold, often accompanied by symptoms such as congestion or an earache.

Infections within your system, particularly viral ones, can disrupt your taste and smell. Conditions like tonsillitis, sinusitis, colds, and middle ear infections commonly impact these sensory functions.

 Additional symptoms of respiratory infections include congestion, earache, and sore throat. Typically, viral infections resolve independently within one to two weeks, and the associated bad taste should subside as the infection clears up.

Hormonal changes

During specific life stages, hormonal changes in women can lead to noticeable taste variations, often characterized by a bitter or metallic taste. This phenomenon, known as dysgeusia, is commonly reported in the first trimester of pregnancy or during menopause. Hormone levels, particularly estrogen, play a significant role in triggering this metallic taste.

In early pregnancy, many women experience a metallic or unpleasant taste in their mouths during the first trimester. Although this taste may be bothersome, it is generally harmless and tends to diminish as pregnancy progresses. 

Women undergoing menopause or approaching this life stage often encounter a bitter taste in their mouths as well. 


Smoking can dull or kill taste buds by altering the blood supply to the taste buds. It’s one of the most common causes of a metallic taste in the mouth that stays for the longest time, even after quitting smoking. Usually, oral mint sprays are used along with smoking to avoid the bitter taste, which can decrease the taste but does not completely eradicate it. It’s beneficial for health to avoid or quit smoking and treat the horrible taste in the mouth and taste buds around the clock.

Radiation or chemotherapy

The side effects of radiation or chemotherapy for cancer treatment, such as a salty or metallic taste in the mouth, are commonly reported. Chemotherapy medications, commonly employed in cancer treatment, often bring about a metallic or sour taste. 

The administration of various chemotherapy drugs, usually in combination, can result in taste disturbances. Likewise, radiation therapy, primarily when directed at head and neck cancers, may produce a metallic taste. 

How to get rid of a bad taste in your mouth?

When experiencing an unpleasant taste in your mouth, the initial step toward finding relief involves maintaining a robust oral hygiene routine. Follow these preventive measures:

  • Brushing Twice a Day: Prioritize brushing for the recommended 2 minutes using an electric toothbrush like the Oral-B iO9, renowned for eliminating 100% more plaque bacteria than a manual toothbrush.
  • Flossing Daily: Incorporate daily flossing, combining traditional string floss such as Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean with an oral irrigator like the Oral-B Water Flosser Advanced to effectively remove lingering plaque and food debris.
  • Dry Mouth Rinse: Integrate a dry mouth rinse into your daily regimen, such as Oral-B Dry Mouth Oral Rinse, which provides instant relief from dry mouth symptoms by moisturizing and hydrating the oral environment.
  • Regular Dental Checkups: Ensure biannual visits to your dental professional for comprehensive cleanings and checkups.
  • If a bitter taste persists, especially due to antibiotic use, consider a salt water rinse with a tablespoon of salt or utilizing a tongue cleaner for potential relief. However, consulting your healthcare provider is essential for accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment. 

In cases where preventive measures fall short, a thorough professional dental cleaning can effectively address the persistent bitter taste. Medical or dental professionals may recommend additional options or medications to enhance saliva production if these interventions prove insufficient.

Still confused about the cause behind the bad taste in mouth? See a doctor online.

Consult a doctor

If you’re experiencing an unfamiliar, unpleasant taste in your mouth, schedule a consultation with a healthcare professional to identify the root cause. Ensure that you provide your doctor with comprehensive information:

  • List all medications and supplements you are currently taking
  • Communicate any additional symptoms, even if they appear unrelated
  • Disclose any previously diagnosed medical conditions

In short, using mouthwash or chewing gum may provide temporary relief until your doctor’s appointment.

FAQs about bad taste in the mouth

Can liver problems cause a bitter taste in the mouth?

A bitter taste in the mouth could suggest liver problems, potentially linked to oral hygiene issues, alterations in taste perception, or liver infections or disease.

Is a salty taste in the mouth serious?

Yes, a persistent salty taste in the mouth could indicate an underlying health condition or medication side effect, necessitating consultation with a doctor if the taste persists or implies an underlying infection or condition.

Why do I taste blood in my throat?

Various reasons, from pregnancy and medications to severe concerns like lung or throat cancer, pulmonary embolism, or lung injury, could cause the taste of blood in the throat.

What deficiency causes a bad taste in the mouth?

A vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to a metallic taste, impacting red blood cell production and potentially affecting the nerves, resulting in a metallic taste in the mouth.

Can fatty liver cause a bad taste in the mouth?

Yes, a bitter taste in the mouth could indicate liver problems, including fatty liver, and may also be related to kidney disease, dry mouth, and acid reflux, necessitating a doctor’s evaluation.

Can kidney problems cause a weird taste in the mouth?

Yes, taste changes are common in kidney disease, and the accumulation of waste in the blood can affect food taste, potentially leading to a metallic taste and bitter aftertaste.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

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