What is causing this gross taste in my mouth?
March 30, 2009 1:58 PM   Subscribe

What is causing this gross taste in my mouth? Possibly distasteful details inside.

For the past 3 days I've had a really gross taste in my mouth. I don't really know what it tastes like other than disgusting. I brush 2x daily, floss daily, and can't find anything in my mouth which may be infected. It's almost as if it's coming from my throat. For example, if I exhale with my mouth closed (if that makes sense?) that is when it tastes the worst. Apparently my breath does not smell. So there's that too. Some factors to possibly consider:

- I am just 2 weeks smoke-free
- I had a pretty bad cold 2 weeks ago, MOST symptoms are gone but I am still a LITTLE congested.

I tend to think this doesn't warrant a visit to the doctor, though if it doesn't clear up soon, I will be making an appointment. I'm not in any pain obviously, but it is annoying/gross.

What might this be? Or alternatively, can I get rid of this myself? Mouthwash and gum masks it only temporarily.

Thanks, MeFites.
posted by heavenstobetsy to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bad mouth taste can be a symptom of a sinus infection, which seems not unlikely given that you had a bad cold and are still congested. (I used to get these pretty frequently after a bad cold till I had my sinus polyps surgically removed -- a short course of antibiotics generally clears it up quickly.)
posted by scody at 2:10 PM on March 30, 2009

Do you still have your tonsils? It could be tonsil stones although your breath would smell too.

Alternately, if you have a cavity in one of your teeth, it can cause a nasty taste especially if it's really advanced.
posted by cabingirl at 2:10 PM on March 30, 2009

Various members of my family complain of bad tastes that last despite brushing their teeth or using mouthwash or chewing gum after eating certain foods. They say it comes from their throat or practically their stomachs. My brother describes it exactly the way you do. He and my grandmother can't eat onions or onion powder and my mom can't eat non-dairy creamer, cheetos and other fake cheese flavorings.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 2:17 PM on March 30, 2009

I vote for tonsil stones, post-nasal drip, or a combo.
posted by desuetude at 2:18 PM on March 30, 2009

Are you sure you're not overusing mouthwash? Overuse of Mouthwash can kill the good, native stuff in your mouth and turn it into a bleak, foul wasteland.
posted by MasonDixon at 2:31 PM on March 30, 2009

I had my tonsils out when I was a kid. And I use mouthwash once a day. So I'm thinking its probably not those two. Thanks for all the suggestions so far!
posted by heavenstobetsy at 2:34 PM on March 30, 2009

Yeah, what desuetude said. Also, if you ever get acid reflux, that can cause some heinous mouth smells/tastes too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:34 PM on March 30, 2009

Sometimes a metallic taste on the back of the tongue is indicative of mineral deficiencies, I read a few case studies on zinc and maganese when my grandfather was having a similiar issue (without the smoking cessation). Turns out maganese was his issue.
posted by zentrification at 2:36 PM on March 30, 2009

Congratulations on being smoke free. What is probably happening is that your lungs are cleaning up and your body is ejecting all the chemical residues your lungs have accumulated and believe me it TASTES AWFUL. Just keep off the cigarettes, drink a lot of water to help your body evacuate the chemicals and all should return to normal in a couple of days.
posted by moe411 at 3:06 PM on March 30, 2009 [5 favorites]

Could be any of the above, but if you just quit smoking it might simply be that you are starting to taste your own mouth again. Smoking really changes the feel and taste of your mouth for obvious reasons.
posted by quarterframer at 3:08 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm with moe411. Once your ciliary escalator starts working again, there'll probably be a ton of nasty stuff your lungs are getting rid of.
posted by greatgefilte at 3:44 PM on March 30, 2009

I'm with moe411 on this. Your cold probably wasn't a cold at all, but your body cleaning itself out. My ex-boyfriend quit smoking after 20 years, and he coughed up crud for months. I quit smoking after being a light/on-and-off smoker for about 8 years, and I definitely tasted some funkiness in my mouth.

Don't start smoking again. Remember, what you're tasting now is a fraction of what the non-smokers you smooch on were tasting when you smoked! (Plus, uh, I hear it's bad for you.)
posted by nosila at 3:55 PM on March 30, 2009

What moe411 said.
posted by Muirwylde at 3:59 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

> - I am just 2 weeks smoke-free

I think that's why.

I've never been a smoker, but was in close quarters with a friend who quit (not quite cold-turkey, but very quickly), and there was a day he could suddenly taste everything: Lousy college cafeteria food, lousy student hangout beer, and the lousy insides of a mouth that hadn't totally flushed out all traces of his former habit.
posted by ardgedee at 4:48 PM on March 30, 2009

Sounds like this has been resolved, but just in case...
Are you taking any new medicines? A prescription I was on (about 6 years ago, don't remember what it was or why I was taking it) once gave me an awful taste in my mouth, which dissipated immediately after I went off the drug. I remember reading the side effects and seeing that this occurred in something like 0.1% of users.
posted by deadcrow at 4:57 PM on March 30, 2009

I had this once, and it was a side effect from taking Lunesta, a sleeping medication. The doctor called it dysgeusia. My mouth tasted awful, and nothing I did would get rid of it. I only took the medication for three days, and the effect was so putrid, that I had to quit.

If you're taking anything to help you sleep, or for the side effects of quitting smoking, that would be something to look into. [like Deadcrow mentioned]
posted by HopperFan at 9:29 PM on March 30, 2009

yep, I'm with moe411 and say it's the stopping smoking (I'm 6 months quit after 15 years as of yesterday). Congrats. Part of it is actually getting your taste back and the other part is your gums/throat/cilia starting to work normally again. It will go away. Although a bit preachy, I found the forums linked from http://whyquit.com/ to be instructive in all the different changes my body was going through (and still is) after quitting.
posted by hobu at 10:51 PM on March 30, 2009

While it's probably related to smoking, I must say that I can experience terrible and awful tastes and smells following a sinus cold, or severe hayfever. My whole mouth and nose will have a bitter, funky snotty flavour.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:03 PM on March 30, 2009

I agree with the quit-smoking crowd - when my wife quit smoking, she had to deal with much the same problem for a few weeks.

However, wanted to also say that in case you forgot to mention starting any allergy meds, there are a lot of those that can have taste/smell side-effects.
posted by dwbrant at 6:12 AM on March 31, 2009

Update: I went to the doctor and I have a sinus infection. So there's that! Thanks again, everyone!
posted by heavenstobetsy at 9:44 AM on April 2, 2009

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