A bitter taste in the mouth can occur for various reasons, including eating certain foods, hormonal changes, and poor oral health. Treating underlying causes and home remedies may help manage a bitter taste in the mouth.

Taste is a complex sense that can be affected by many factors, including poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, or pregnancy.

Treating a persistent bitter taste involves treating any underlying conditions, but people can manage the unpleasant taste with some simple home remedies in the meantime.

This article lists and explains 13 possible causes of a bitter taste in the mouth. It also discusses symptoms and treatments.

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Many of the causes of a bitter taste in the mouth are not serious. However, the symptoms can be irritating and may interfere with a person’s regular diet or their enjoyment of daily life.

Dry mouth

A dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, occurs when the mouth does not produce enough saliva. Because saliva helps reduce the bacteria in the mouth, having less saliva means that more bacteria can survive.

People with xerostomia may feel a sticky, dry feeling in their mouth. This could be the result of factors such as:

People with a persistently dry mouth should speak with a healthcare professional.

Dental issues

Poor dental hygiene can cause oral health issues that may lead to a bitter taste in the mouth. These include:

Many common dental issues can be avoided by regularly brushing and flossing the teeth. A person should also attend regular check-ups with a dentist.

Using an antibacterial mouthwash in between brushing may help keep foul-tasting bacteria to a minimum.


A person who is pregnant may experience a metallic or bitter taste in their mouth. This sensation typically clears up on its own over time.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect a person’s sense of smell. This can make them more sensitive to certain smells. It can affect their sense of taste and lead to this metallic or bitter taste in their mouth.

Burning mouth syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome is a condition that causes a burning sensation in the mouth. Along with this burning feeling, some people may also experience a bitter or rancid taste in their mouth.

The symptoms of burning mouth syndrome may appear sporadically, but it can also be chronic and last for a long time.

Some people with the syndrome may have difficulty eating or drinking, while others may find that this relieves their symptoms.


Individuals experiencing menopause may also experience a bitter taste in their mouth. This could be due to lower levels of estrogen in the body, which can lead to a secondary condition, such as burning mouth syndrome.

It may also be due to a persistently dry mouth, which is common in people experiencing menopause.

GERD or acid reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux may be the cause of a bitter taste in the mouth.

These conditions occur when stomach contents come back up into the esophagus. Acid reflux tends to be a temporary issue, while GERD is typically chronic and longer lasting.

Both acid reflux and GERD can irritate the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest or abdomen. It can also bring about a foul or bitter taste in the mouth, which may persist as long as the other symptoms.

Oral thrush

Oral thrush is an infection of the mouth that is the result of a type of yeast called Candida. Oral thrush can cause various symptoms, including:

  • white patches on the tongue, inner cheek, roof of mouth, or throat
  • cotton-like feeling in the mouth
  • soreness or redness
  • pain while eating or swallowing
  • cracking or discoloration at the corners of the mouth
  • loss of taste

Some people may also experience a bitter or unpleasant taste in their mouth.

Pine nut syndrome

Pine nut syndrome, or pine mouth, is an uncommon occurrence that can happen in some people within 12-48 hours after consuming pine nuts.

Pine nut syndrome is generally characterized by a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth. This may be amplified by the consumption of other foods. Pine nut syndrome can last for 2-4 weeks.

Stress and anxiety

High stress and anxiety levels can stimulate the stress response in the body, which can alter a person’s sense of taste.

Anxiety can cause dry mouth, which frequently results in a bitter taste.

Nerve damage

Like our other senses, taste buds are directly connected to the nerves of the brain. Damage to the nerves can cause a change in how a person experiences tastes.

Nerve damage can result from a head injury or conditions that include the following:

Medications and oral supplements

In some people, certain medicines, supplements, or medical treatments may cause a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth. This may be because the medicines taste bitter or because chemicals in them are excreted into the saliva.

A person should consult a healthcare professional or pharmacist to find out if their medications could be causing a bitter taste.

Medications that may lead to a bitter taste include:


Certain illnesses, including sinus infections or colds, can be accompanied by a bitter taste in the mouth.

During these illnesses, the body sends out inflammatory proteins to capture harmful cells. These proteins may also affect the tongue and taste buds, which could make a person experience a taste in their mouth that is more bitter than normal.

Cancer treatment

A person who is undergoing cancer treatment may experience a bitter or metallic taste in their mouth when eating or drinking.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatment may irritate the taste buds in some people, which may cause even simple things, such as plain toast or water, to have a bitter or unpleasant taste.

A persistent altered taste in the mouth is known medically as dysgeusia. This taste is described as unpleasant and can last for a long time until the underlying cause is treated.

People with dysgeusia may experience a constant taste that they often describe as one of the following:

  • bitter
  • metallic
  • rancid or foul
  • salty

The taste can be distracting, and may even make it hard to taste other things while eating or drinking. A person may still have the taste even after brushing their teeth. They may also experience other symptoms depending on the cause.

Treating a bitter taste in the mouth for good normally involves treating the underlying cause. A healthcare professional can often diagnose the problem by asking about any other symptoms and medications, and running tests. They can then recommend appropriate treatments.

Home remedies may help some people find temporary relief from their symptoms while looking for a permanent solution, though they may not work for everyone.

Home remedies that may help reduce a bitter taste in the mouth include:

  • regular dental care, such as brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash
  • chewing sugar-free gum to keep saliva moving in the mouth
  • drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day
  • avoiding risk factors for acid reflux, such as eating greasy or spicy foods, and reducing or eliminating tobacco products and alcohol
  • rinsing the mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda added to a glass of water

Experiencing a bitter taste in the mouth is fairly common and is generally not an immediate reason to be concerned.

Most bitter tastes are treatable, and a person may be able to manage this symptom while a doctor diagnoses the cause.

Once the cause is found and treatment begins, the taste buds should return to normal, and the bitter taste in the mouth should disappear.

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