Why do I have a weird taste in my mouth? 8 possible causes

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Find out if the weird taste in your mouth is caused by gum disease, medication, dry mouth or a more serious illness.

Why do I have a weird taste in my mouth 8 possible causes

Occasionally having a bad taste in your mouth is totally normal. But if you’ve had a strange taste in your mouth for days, it could be a sign of an underlying dental or medical problem. While the most common causes may not be serious, it’s best to discuss treatment with your dentist.

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What’s causing the weird taste in my mouth?

1. Gum disease

If you’re experiencing a strange metallic taste in your mouth, chances are it’s caused by gum disease, such as gingivitis or periodontitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of adults age 30 and older suffer from some form of gum disease¹. Bad breath or a weird taste in your mouth is a common symptom².

What to do about it:

Make an appointment to see your dentist. Your dentist will be able to check your teeth, determine whether the bad taste in your mouth is a sign of gum disease, and provide a treatment plan.

As gum diseases could be caused by poor oral hygiene, it’s important to take good care of your teeth at home as well.

The American Dental Association (2019) recommends that all adults do the following³:

  • Brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste

  • Clean between teeth daily

  • Eat a healthy diet that limits sugary beverages and snacks

  • See a dentist regularly for prevention and treatment of oral disease

2. Over-the-counter or prescription medications

Studies have shown that over 350 medications in all major drug categories have elicited taste complaints, often leaving a metallic or bitter taste in the mouth⁴. Vitamins, supplements⁵, and cancer treatments such as chemotherapy⁶ can do so as well.

What to do about it:

Consult your doctor to find out if any medications you’re currently taking might be causing the bitter taste in your mouth and to discuss alternatives.

3. Dry mouth

Xerostomia, or dry mouth, occurs when saliva flow is reduced. Along with leaving a weird taste in your mouth, it can cause difficulties in tasting, chewing, swallowing, and even speaking⁷. It’s a relatively common condition that can be caused by a variety of factors, including medications, aging, menopause, and diabetes.

What to do about it:

If you suspect you’re suffering from dry mouth, make an appointment with your dentist. They’ll be able to confirm a diagnosis, relieve discomfort, and treat the problem in order to prevent any complications.

4. Burning mouth syndrome

Along with the bad taste in your mouth, does it also feel as though your mouth has been burned with hot coffee? You might be suffering from burning mouth syndrome. This condition can affect the roof of the mouth, the tongue, the gums, the back of the mouth or throat, and the inside of the cheeks⁸ It’s often accompanied by a bitter or metallic taste.

What to do about it:

If you’re experiencing a burning sensation in the mouth along with the strange taste, make an appointment with your dentist who can confirm the diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

5. Oral thrush

Oral thrush is a fungal infection in the mouth that can leave a metallic taste in the mouth. It often causes white spots to appear on the tongue, mouth, or throat. Oral thrush is common among denture wearers and people with weak immune systems.⁹

What to do about it:

Make an appointment with your dentist if you suspect you might have thrush. In the meantime, practice good oral hygiene. Clean your dentures regularly, if applicable.

6. Respiratory infections

Certain illnesses or infections can cause a weird taste in your mouth. Tonsillitis, sinus infections, ear infections, and the common cold can all leave your mouth tasting bitter or metallic.¹⁰

What to do about it:

If the strange taste in your mouth is a symptom of a cold or other minor infection, it’ll likely go away once the infection is properly treated. Visit your doctor if symptoms persist. In the meantime, drink plenty of fluids and get some rest.

7. Pregnancy

Hormones present during pregnancy can cause dysgeusia, or a change in your sense of taste.¹¹ They can cause you to lose a taste for foods you used to love or enjoy foods you’ve always disliked. Pregnancy hormones can also cause a metallic or sour taste in your mouth even when you’re not eating anything.

What to do about it:

Be patient. Though dysgeusia can last throughout the whole nine months, it’s most common during the first trimester. It may be annoying, but it won’t last forever and it’s no cause for concern. Practice good oral hygiene and eat the foods you can.

8. More serious illnesses

If you aren’t experiencing any other symptoms, the metallic taste in your mouth likely isn’t a sign of serious illness. However, in some cases, a strange metallic taste in the mouth could be a symptom of diabetes, neurological conditions like dementia, liver disease, kidney disease, or even certain cancers¹².

What to do about it:

If you’re experiencing other serious symptoms along with a metallic taste in your mouth, see a doctor. Be sure to tell them about all of the symptoms you’re experiencing, even if they seem unrelated.

How can I fix the strange taste in my mouth?

The quickest way to get to the root of the problem is by making an appointment with a dentist. If you don’t have dental insurance, consider purchasing individual dental insurance before scheduling your checkup in order to help save money. Most checkups and cleanings are 100% covered by individual dental insurance, while basic procedures are often covered up to 70%.¹³

If you’re experiencing other serious symptoms in addition to the weird taste in your mouth or if you suspect your medications might be causing it, consult your doctor.

The following can help you deal with the bad taste in your mouth in the meantime:

  • Brush your teeth (and tongue) at least twice a day

  • Floss every day

  • Chew sugar-free gum

  • Don’t skip breakfast

  • Stop smoking

  • Drink plenty of water

No matter the cause of the weird taste in your mouth, rest assured that it doesn’t have to last forever. Practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist will help you fix the problem so you can keep your mouth tasting clean and fresh.

Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof.

Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. It is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.


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  1. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/conditions/periodontal-disease.html (Last accessed February 2020)

  2. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/g/gum-disease (Last accessed February 2020)

  3. https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/home-care (Last accessed February 2020)

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6051304/ (Last accessed February 2020)

  5. https://www.rug.nl/research/portal/files/41125904/Chapter\_4\_.pdf (Last accessed February 2020)

  6. https://www.npr.org/2014/04/07/295800503/chemo-can-make-food-taste-like-metal-heres-help (Last accessed February 2020)

  7. https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/xerostomia (Last accessed February 2020)

  8. http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/patient\_53.ashx (Last accessed February 2020)

  9. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/thrush (Last accessed February 2020)

  10. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/metallic-taste/ (Last accessed February 2020)

  11. https://utswmed.org/medblog/weird-pregnancy-symptoms/ (Last accessed February 2020)

  12. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/8-possible-causes-for-that-metallic-taste-in-your-mouth/ (Last accessed February 2020)

  13. Coverage amounts may vary by plan and it is best to do comprehensive research on which is best for your own situation prior to selecting a plan.