What would cause an infrequent crappy taste in my mouth?
March 20, 2013 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Maybe twice a year, there will be a few days in a row when my mouth just tastes gross. I'm super sensitive to bad breath in others, and I can't stand it when my mouth tastes a little sour at the back of the tongue either. Why would this happen? I ate something super raw garlicky on Saturday, but it's Wednesday now! Could this still be it? Why does this happen? What can I do to change it? Again, this isn't a persistent problem, I usually taste and, I've been told, smell fine. But when it happens, it's like a few days at a time and it's disgusting. Help.
posted by namesarehard to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You might have gotten into some bad Pine Nuts (they would be in Pesto) Here's an extract from the Wikipedia article:

Risks from eating pine nuts.

Pine nuts can cause taste disturbances, lasting between a few days to a few weeks after consumption. A bitter, metallic taste is described. Though unpleasant, there are no known lasting effects, with the FDA reporting that there are "no apparent adverse clinical side effects.".[11] This phenomenon was first described in a scientific paper in 2001.[12] Publications have made reference to this phenomenon as "pine nut syndrome" or as "pine mouth".[13] The Nestlé Research Centre has hypothesized that nuts from a particular species of pine occurring mostly in China, Pinus armandii, is the cause of the problem. The suspect species of pine nuts are smaller, duller, and more rounded than typical pine nuts.[14] A 2011 study found results consistent with this hypothesis and also suggested that chemicals used in the shelling process might be responsible.[15] Metallic taste disturbance, known as metallogeusia, is typically reported 1–3 days after ingestion, being worse on day 2 and lasting typically up to 2 weeks. Cases are self-limited and resolve without treatment.[16] Möller[17] has postulated a hypothesis that could explain why the bitter taste appears several days after ingestion and lasts for as long. A well known physiological process known as enterohepatic recirculation (EHR) could play a key role in the development of PNS.

The FDA is currently investigating “Pine Mouth”.[18]

So...that's a thing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:38 PM on March 20, 2013

Do you still have your tonsils? If so, do you ever notice weird white stuff in the crevices? You may have tonsilliths. Google for fun info.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:42 PM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: That is fascinating. I bet it is something like that, though I haven't eaten any pinenuts. It almost is garlicky, but jesus, it can't be 5 days of garlic in my bloodstream. I've been pounding water and green tea like crazy. Mostly water.

Anyone else know of crazy unexpected foods that would alter your mouth chemistry for a couple of days?

No tonsillitis, they seem nice and pink like the rest of my mouth. Also wouldn't I feel pain?
posted by namesarehard at 1:43 PM on March 20, 2013

Did you eat any restaurant food that might have had pesto in it?
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 1:44 PM on March 20, 2013

Seconding tonsilloliths/tonsil stones if you still have your tonsils.
posted by cabingirl at 1:46 PM on March 20, 2013

Does this coincide with days in which you aren't eating many starches or sugars? A day or two of very low carb intake could put you in ketosis, and ketones make your mouth taste weird. Some describe it as "metallic," but it's different for everyone.
posted by artemisia at 1:49 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't mean to threadsit. I'll think about whether I've eaten fewer carbs. It's possible. If it helps the sleuths, there's also a slight back of the tongue dryness feeling, like with sticky saliva, regardless of how much I am drinking.

I have used a nasal spray decongestant the last few nights. Related?
posted by namesarehard at 1:51 PM on March 20, 2013

See also: post nasal drip, which will cause a weird taste.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:52 PM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Tonsil stones, my husband gets this and gargles with warm salt water which seems to help. I've had stinky breath problems from sinus infections/post nasal drip.
posted by wwax at 1:54 PM on March 20, 2013

Seconding DarlingBri - if you have a low-grade sinus infection without any of the normal telltale signs like swelling, tenderness, pressure, or outright pain, you might not even know. The weird taste/smell could be from postnasal drip as your body clears out the infection on its own.

As someone with lots of sinus problems, I'm constantly checking my breath and chewing gum to get rid of the taste and odor since it happens to me so much.
posted by trivia genius at 1:55 PM on March 20, 2013

Along the tonsil stones, theory, people often get little bits of food stuck in the epiglottic valleculae at the root of their tongue. You usually feel it, but you might not. Is it possible you got a little piece of garlic or something stuck there for a few days? It's a tough place to reach - usually water would get it down, but you never know. It's a tricky place.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:57 PM on March 20, 2013

Oh, and not to be *that guy* on the internet here, but if it lasts much longer, there is always a chance it could be something gastointestinal, so, you know, ask a doctor and all that.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:59 PM on March 20, 2013

Zinc deficiency is extremely common with modern diets and can manifest as a metallic taste. Take a multivitamin and see if things improve.
posted by bfranklin at 2:23 PM on March 20, 2013

Are you flossing?
posted by w0mbat at 2:26 PM on March 20, 2013

Response by poster: Yes, flossing, brushing 2 minutes with sonicare twice a day. I've let the cat into my room a lot recently. I wonder if it's allergies, but I haven't experienced other annoying symptoms other than feeling a bit congested at night.
posted by namesarehard at 2:52 PM on March 20, 2013

> No tonsillitis, they seem nice and pink like the rest of my mouth. Also wouldn't I feel pain?

Not necessarily. I used to have gross tonsiliths and frequent sore throats, but it was possible to have one without the other.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:55 PM on March 20, 2013

Were you taking the nasal decongestants because of post nasal drip or congestion? The dry mouth, dryness of nasal decongestants and post nasal drop is basically a recipe for tonsilliths for me at least. They don't hurt or necessarily coincide with tonsillitis. In other words you don't need to be sick to get them. At most I sometimes feel like there is something stuck in my throat and I shine a light in my mouth and there they are! Sometimes almost overnight. It can definitely cause a weird taste in my mouth and I feel like my teeth don't really get or stay clean as long.
posted by whoaali at 3:07 PM on March 20, 2013

Have you tried a tongue scraper?
posted by nacho fries at 3:31 PM on March 20, 2013

Response by poster: Alright, I guess the cat is getting banned from my room. Poor cat.
posted by namesarehard at 3:32 PM on March 20, 2013

Acid reflux? "Super raw garlicky" might trigger a bout. Any signs of indigestion?
posted by PickeringPete at 3:42 PM on March 20, 2013

Not tonsillitis, tonsilliths. They occur without infection and often exist BEHIND the fold of your mouth between the back of your mouth and the little fleshy cubby that houses your tonsils and I guess your adenoids.

I have post nasal drip and that is usually the cause of sudden weird breath, so I'd like to echo Darlingbri on that one.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:46 PM on March 20, 2013

Response by poster: Yes to tongue cleaning, no to signs of indigestion

Oh, tonsilliths... ewwww. I don't see anything, is there another way to find out?

Dansaman, my sleep is always kind of junky - what would that have to do with it, do you think?
posted by namesarehard at 3:47 PM on March 20, 2013

Any other factors possibly involved such as insufficient sleep in recent days?
posted by Dansaman at 3:48 PM on March 20, 2013

Some medications can cause this. For example, I can't take acetaminophen (Tylenol, paracetamol) because of the horrible taste it leaves in my mouth for the time it takes to leave my body.
posted by kamikazegopher at 4:03 PM on March 20, 2013

Have you had your wisdom teeth removed? Sometimes there are little pockets left for a long time (or forever) at the gum behind your last remaining molar that capture food in a place you may not be used to brushing/cleaning. Your tongue, a water pick, or a mouth rinse helps.

Oh, tonsilliths... ewwww. I don't see anything, is there another way to find out?

Yeah, I am sorry to say I have had those before, though not frequently thank heavens. Warning that talking about them is kind of gross, so I apologize in advance if the following bothers anyone.

They did not cause me pain, and usually the first indication I had was a bad taste at the back of my mouth. I could usually rub the back of my tongue against the back of my throat and would feel the sensation of something like a stone. The more I did that, the more apparent/annoying it became. Sometimes this action will dislodge it, but be careful of gagging yourself. A warm salt water rinse is a better solution.
posted by calcetinporfavor at 5:18 PM on March 20, 2013

Been to the dentist lately? I've got some fantastically cavity-prone teeth, and I swear I can taste the decay occasionally, or when a filling needs to be replaced. It's rare and intermittent, but sure enough the next time I get to the dentist there's usually something to be fixed. I can't describe it, it's just... gross.
posted by cgg at 7:57 PM on March 20, 2013

Response by poster: Taste seems to be gone. Thanks, team.
posted by namesarehard at 12:11 AM on March 21, 2013

Came in to say I get something similar caused by acid reflux. Omeprazole or similar proton pump inhibitors have helped.
posted by Lieber Frau at 4:08 AM on March 21, 2013

Reflux is what causes it for me. Can happen for days. It's weird what sets my reflux off. If I've been driving though a long road tunnel - when I come to the end of it I will have a funny smell in my nose, followed by a weird taste in my mouth, followed by reflux. The human body is just plain weird.
posted by humpy at 4:33 AM on March 22, 2013

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