Something leaving a bad taste in my mouth
July 5, 2011 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Why does my mouth taste like mothballs?

A week and a half before my wedding, and of course I've gotta have some weird medical thing going on. I've noticed over the past two weeks that occasionally, I get a really bad, chemically taste in my mouth. Initially, I thought it was some strange taste from what I was eating (like some kind of seed caught in my teeth), but I've come to realize that it's not specific to any one food, or even any one kind of food. The taste seems to be centered around the back of my mouth. I have two half-erupted wisdom teeth back there, and every now and then when I roll my tongue around them, I get a BLECH MOTHBALLS taste in my mouth. YANMDoctor/Dentist, but any ideas what this could be? And with a wedding next weekend, is it something that I should get checked out pre-wedding, post-wedding/pre-honeymoon, or post-honeymoon?

Relevant details:
-I had a dentist appointment in April, no cavities or bad spots. I had two fillings in my second molars about a year ago. No tooth pain or sensitivity, but as I said, I have two half-erupted wisdom teeth. Not due for another appointment until October.
-It doesn't seem to be triggered by anything in particular. It happens when I'm eating, before I'm eating, before or after I brush my teeth, or just when I'm sitting around.
-I don't believe it's causing me bad breath, or at least I haven't gotten any complaints.

Possibly relevant, but maybe unrelated: I've had a mild sore throat for the past few days that came out of nowhere. No other symptoms of anything.
posted by specialagentwebb to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
Find a way to see your tonsils. You should be able to do this yourself by opening your mouth and sticking out your tongue and looking in a mirror if the light is right; if you can't figure it out, you can have a friend (or handy fiancé?) check with a flashlight. I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that your tonsils are at least mildly inflamed, and that you have at least one tonsilolith back there. You might need to flex your throat a bit (hard to describe) in order to see it pop out.

If you do, and you have a steady hand and not-overly-sensitive gag reflex, you can remove it yourself with a q-tip or a waterpik on a very gentle setting. A doctor can also remove them very easily.
posted by telegraph at 5:50 PM on July 5, 2011

have you eaten pine nuts recently?
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:55 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you've been eating very low carb lately, it could be a side effect of ketosis.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 6:20 PM on July 5, 2011

Response by poster: No pine nuts in recent memory, and although I've been cutting down on carbs, it's more to the effect of "buy the whole wheat bread instead of wonderbread" and "maybe more veggies and less rice".

The tonsilolith possibility is intriguing (and a little creepy/gross). The SpecialMister is out right now, but I'll have him check it out when he gets back.
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:30 PM on July 5, 2011

You can really vigorously clear your throat, like if you were trying to bring up some phlegm. That usually dislodges the tonsilloliths for me.
posted by cabingirl at 6:41 PM on July 5, 2011

It could be a sign of bacteria in the wisdom teeth, or some other teeth back there. Does there seem to be a film on any of the teeth back there? As in it feels like you need to brush? That may be a sign of decay/bacteria.

I know because I had a bridge that was decaying inside and there was a yucky taste back by the bridge and a film on it. I had no idea what was going on until my Dentist took the bridge off and, ew it wasn't pretty. Just so you know, I had that situation in my mouth for months or more, so if that's what it seems to be, you might be able to wait til after the wedding. But then, I'm definitely not a dentist!

Good luck and Happy Marriage!
posted by minx at 6:44 PM on July 5, 2011

You're not pregnant, are you? I'm not familiar with what mothballs would taste like, but a distinctive and weird taste was one of the first signs of pregnancy for me, along with sore boobs.

Otherwise, my uninformed opinion is that both the taste and the sore throat are post-nasal drip related, super common and causes all kinds of weird and gross little symptoms.

posted by crabintheocean at 6:52 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

A week and a half before my wedding,

This kind of thing often happens due to stress.
posted by ovvl at 7:35 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you eat something, does it taste like mothballs, too? Does the taste get worse after you eat something, then gradually taper off?

If so, then I would suggest you take a second look at the pine nut theory that thinkingwoman first posited. I had a bout of this a few months ago, and it was just as described. Pine nuts are sometimes baked into cookies, and then of course there's pesto.

It could also - not to freak you out - be due to something else. The mechanics of "pine mouth" are that the bad pine nuts poison you a little bit. This bad taste (dysgeusia) is a symptom of the poisoning. It's a problem in the nerves that go from your mouth to your brain, which is why it cannot be eradicated by mouthwash or whatever.

If you can eradicate the taste by brushing your teeth or consuming something strong (like coffee) then it probably isn't dysgeusia.
posted by ErikaB at 8:41 PM on July 5, 2011

My husband's partially-erupted wisdom tooth was only partially formed and had mostly decayed.

Most dentists will make space for you to come in and check - your dentist is the most qualified one to tell you what to do, especially given that oral decay and bacteria can be really hazardous to your overall health.

You might as well get it checked out - it's the quickest way to not waste the stressful time before your wedding worrying about whether the health issue is serious or not.
posted by bookdragoness at 8:46 PM on July 5, 2011

I had a problem with a crown (root canal follow up) coming loose and then having a really digusting taste in my mouth. It took a few visits, a periodontal appointment and then a late night session 'cleaning my gums more thoroughly' with a device I had been given, before my crown fell off and I found a pretty gross situation underneath. Go back to your dentist and insist there is a problem. Good luck. And seconding the happy wedding.
posted by bquarters at 10:32 PM on July 5, 2011

I, too, experienced a weird and never-before-tasted taste in my mouth as one of my first symptoms when I was pregnant. Could you be?
posted by houseofdanie at 10:53 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

You don't mention flossing. Are you flossing? I have, in the past, noticed a taste like you describe if I went too long between flossings, that disappeared when I finally flossed and discovered all the gross reasons I should have been flossing daily. Now I try to just keep the habit.
posted by vytae at 8:12 AM on July 6, 2011

Are you having a lot of headaches and pressure between your eyes? I understand a sinus infection can cause a nasty taste in your mouth.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:45 AM on July 6, 2011

Just some ideas, I've had weird tastes in my mouth from a nasty sinus infection. Also if are you taking any medication, even OTC stuff that might be triggering something too.
posted by wwax at 9:40 AM on July 7, 2011

« Older Long-Term Weight Loss: What Does It Feel Like?   |   How should I seek my fortune? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.