(Last Updated On: September 8, 2018)
If you wake up with a nasty metallic tang or other unpleasant taste in your mouth each morning, then there are some simple steps that you can take to rid yourself of the problem. But the bitter taste is only a symptom of something else and to get rid of the problem for good you will need to make some lifestyle changes or see your doctor or dentist to obtain treatment for more serious causes.
What Causes A Bitter Taste In Your Mouth?
Overnight your mouth produces less of your natural antibacterial saliva. This allows odor and bitter taste causing bacteria to proliferate while you sleep.
If you have tooth decay or periodontal disease, this extra dryness can lead to a bad taste because the many harmful bacteria already present in your mouth will multiply.
Sleeping with your mouth open can also lead to excessive dryness. Sleeping with your mouth open is usually caused by congestion in your sinuses and nasal passages.
It can also be caused by factors that may lead you to snore, one of which is alcohol consumption.
To minimize dry mouth, you should make sure that you are properly hydrated throughout the day. Many liquids actually contribute toward dehydration because of their sodium (salt) content, (sodas contain sodium). If you eat a high sodium diet, you will also need to drink more to compensate for the increased amount of urine that your body produces to allow it to excrete the salt.
The best hydrating drinks are plain filtered water, coconut water – which is used as a rehydration fluid in some countries – and herbal teas. Make sure that you drink plenty before you go to bed and keep water available on your nightstand. Proper hydration will ensure that you continue to produce some saliva while you sleep.
If you are dealing with sinus congestion, then clearing the congestion will allow you to breathe through your nose and keep your mouth closed which will prevent dryness. Use a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil in a bowl of warm water and inhale the steam before bed.
If poor oral hygiene is causing a proliferation of bacteria in your mouth overnight, then you need to address the root of problem. You should pay better attention to cleaning your teeth and always remember to brush your teeth before bed. Visit your dentist to check for hidden tooth decay and to have it addressed.
For periodontal disease, you can obtain good results from oil pulling. Oil pulls the bacteria and toxins from your mouth very effectively. It takes a little getting used to, but it has good results.
Take a tablespoon of olive or coconut oil and swish it around your mouth, try to do this for at least 15 minutes, then spit it out.
Another supportive treatment for periodontal disease is magnesium. Research has found that people with periodontal disease are usually deficient in magnesium and that supplementing with magnesium brings significant improvement to the condition.
If you snore and you drink alcohol, then you should know that the alcohol is the most likely cause of your snoring. Snoring will lead to a dry mouth and the bad taste. Alcohol consumption is also linked to an increased risk for developing periodontal disease.
Acid Reflux and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
This is one of the leading causes of bad breath and a foul taste in the mouth upon waking.
Acid reflux and the more severe GERD, occur when stomach acids migrate from the stomach up into the esophagus where they leave a bitter taste and a foul odor in your mouth. Acid reflux can be caused by both too much stomach acid and too little.
GERD is the most common digestive disorder in the united states with studies showing that 10-20% of individuals experience symptoms at least once a week.
Gerd doesn’t just affect the stomach and the esophagus, its effects can reach down into the digestive tract and lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is the 2nd leading reason for missed work days after the common cold.
The rate of heartburn and GERD increases with age, but levels of stomach acid levels generally decline with age.
Jonathan Wright, MD of the Tahoma Clinic in Washington state, says that almost every time that stomach acid is measured in people suffering from heartburn and GERD it is found to be low, not high.
Acid Reflux and GERD are caused by the malfunction of the muscular valve that separates the lower end of the esophagus and the stomach. This valve is called the lower esophageal valve (LES). This valve opens to allow swallowed food and liquids to pass quickly into the stomach. Other than for belching to allow gas to escape this is the only time the valve should open. When the LES is operating correctly, no stomach acid can make its way back up into the esophagus. But when the LES is dysfunctional, as it is in GERD, acid from the stomach finds its way back into the throat where it damages the delicate lining there and also causes the awful taste in your mouth.
Insufficient stomach acid causes the food in your stomach to sit undigested, and a lack of stomach acid also allows for the overgrowth of bacteria. These bacteria cause the food to ferment, which causes gas. This gas increases intra-abdominal pressure, and that pressure causes the LES to open which permits acid into your esophagus.
Drug companies know that antacid prescription medications and over-the-counter treatments only mask the symptoms of the acid in your esophagus. But those medications bring in over $13 billion a year, and since they don’t treat the underlying problem, you have to keep on buying them to keep your symptoms under control. It’s a nice cash cow for the pharmaceutical companies, but it’s no good for you.
If you suffer from acid reflux or GERD and this is leading to the bitter taste in your mouth, then drinking some apple cider vinegar mixed with water before you go to bed will help.
Mix 2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons raw organic honey into 1 cup of warm water.
If the mild acid in the vinegar doesn’t prove to be strong enough, then you can seek the help of a physician that practices alternative medicine and obtain hydrochloric acid and pepsin capsules.
It would also be a good idea to address the reason for the low stomach acid in the first place. Research shows that infection with H. pylori bacteria affects over 50% of the global population and that the incidence of infection increases 1% for every year of age. It is fair to assume that 60% of 60-year-olds are infected with this bacteria, rising to 80% of 80-year-olds. H. pylori suppresses stomach acid production, it has to survive in your stomach. If you take antacids, you are making your stomach an even more comfortable place for the H. pylori bacteria to thrive in.
The fermentation of foods sitting in your stomach produces hydrogen gas, and hydrogen gas is the preferred food source for H. pylori. Excessive consumption of carbohydrates allows the bacteria to produce even more hydrogen gas, so if you have regular episodes of Acid Reflux or suffer from GERD, then you should minimize your carbohydrate consumption and get tested for H.pylori.
Your medication may be the cause of the bad taste in your mouth. Certain antibiotics such as tetracycline; the gout medicine allopurinol; lithium, and some cardiac medications are known to cause a bitter taste in the mouth.
Mineral supplements containing heavy metals like as copper, zinc, iron or chromium can cause a metallic taste. Prenatal vitamins and calcium supplements can also be the culprit. Check your dosage and make sure you are not taking too much. It’s always best to get vitamins and mineral from food if you can. This isn’t always possible due to the depleted soils that food is grown in today, but food grown organically by local suppliers at your farmers market will have much higher levels of nutrients than the produce at the supermarket.
If you are pregnant, the best source of folate to protect your baby from neural tube defects is legumes and leafy greens. Folic acid is actually a synthetic form of folate, and there are now concerns over its use as more research is being done to look into this fairly recent addition to the human diet.
The word folate shares a common root with the word foliage, which means leafy material. This is a good reminder of one of the best natural sources of this vital vitamin – green leafy vegetables. Some legumes are also packed with folate, namely lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and garbanzo beans (chickpeas). You can also purchase supplements made from folate rather than folic acid.
If you think that your supplements could be the cause of your bitter morning mouth, then give them up for a few days to a week and see if the problem goes away. If it does, then make an effort to get your nutrients from food. You could even grow some of your own – it will be the healthiest and tastiest food you’ll ever eat.
Upper respiratory tract infections like colds and sinusitis alter your sense of taste and cause unpleasant tastes in your mouth. This is temporary and will go back to normal when the infection clears. To speed up clearing the infection, you can take vitamin C supplements throughout the day.
Research has reconfirmed the findings of acclaimed Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling and found that vitamin C is the safest and most effective way to fight the common cold. In a controlled study investigating mega doses of vitamin C in relieving cold and flu symptoms, 715 subjects were treated with hourly doses of 1,000mg of vitamin C for the first 6 hours after reporting symptoms of cold or flu. Vitamin C treatment was continued at the rate of 3x 1,000mg doses daily after that. The results of this study demonstrated that flu and cold symptoms were reduced by taking vitamin C, with the signs in the test group decreasing by 85% compared to the control group.
The study authors also noted, “For more than 30 years vitamin C in megadose quantities has been recognized as an effective agent against colds and flu.”
Patients being treated for cancer with chemotherapy drugs or radiation may experience a metallic taste in their mouth as a side effect of the treatment. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the side effects of these treatments.
When you’re in the early stages of pregnancy, your sense of taste can change and lead you to develop a bitter taste in your mouth in the morning. Once your hormones settle down as the pregnancy progresses, this will taste will go away.
Your taste buds are connected by nerves to your brain. Odd tastes can develop when the portion of the brain responsible for taste ceases to work correctly.
If you have recently been exposed to mercury or lead, these substances can often produce a metallic taste. One common reason for a bitter taste in the mouth is old amalgam fillings that are losing their integrity. Visit your dentist to get the state of your fillings checked out, and if they need replacing have them replaced with composite fillings.
It’s also important to make sure that you use a dental surgeon who uses the correct protective procedure for the removal of toxic amalgam so that you aren’t exposed to even more of this poison. One of the most significant sources of mercury exposure comes from the ground amalgam as it is drilled from teeth.
Smoking is a cause of general stinky breath all day long, and this stench and foul taste will be much worse upon waking. Smoking leads to a dryer mouth overall, and it also increases the risk of gum disease which brings a high load of bacteria into your mouth. It’s the metabolic byproducts of these bacteria rather than just the presence of them that cause the odor and the nasty taste.
If you have no intention of quitting smoking, then there is little point in me urging you to. It’s your body and your choice, but you must ensure that keep well hydrated and that your dental hygiene is excellent.
You’ll need extra vitamin and mineral support because smoking uses up vast amounts of your antioxidants, and many antioxidant substances – vitamin C for example – are also necessary to carry out other vital functions and to produce proteins in your body.
Our picks of the top bad breath solutions out on the market right now.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, it’s used to make up your skin, organs, blood vessels and…your gums. It was the breakdown in collagen synthesis due to lack of vitamin C that produced the symptoms of scurvy, which was a widespread affliction in the past. Collagen is also degraded more quickly by smoking.
If you smoke and don’t supplement with large amounts of vitamin C, then you are most definitely deficient in this crucial nutrient, and your gum health and breath will suffer.
A good starting point to address your higher vitamin C needs would be to take 1,000mg of vitamin C three or 4 times a day.
Alcohol is a diuretic which means that it causes your body to excrete more urine. This leads to mild dehydration, which is bad news for your bad breath because you will have a drier mouth. You will experience a reduction in the saliva that naturally cleans your mouth and keeps bacteria levels from getting out of control. When the bacteria can multiply happily overnight in your dry mouth, their masses of metabolic byproducts lead to the awful odor and taste when you wake up.
Alcohol is also a well-known of acid reflux which I already covered earlier. And alcohol consumption can be the cause of snoring which leads to a dry mouth.
Try to cut down your alcohol consumption by alternating your alcoholic drinks with sparkling water.
When you snore, you tend to have an open mouth, and this leads to dryness and bad breath. Alcohol, obesity, sinus congestion, sleep position, taking sleeping pills, physical deformity (broken nose, etc.,) and allergies are all causes of snoring.
While snoring leads to dry mouth, bad breath and a disturbed night for your partner it can also lead to some serious health conditions like sleep apnea (where you stop breathing multiple times a night) increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Try making some lifestyle changes, like cutting back on alcohol, losing a little weight, and ensuring that your mattress and pillows are supporting you properly while you sleep. It’s also a good idea to see your doctor and try to find a solution because of the health mentioned above risks associated with snoring.
Sometimes a metallic taste can indicate a serious illness, such as kidney or liver problems, diabetes or certain cancers. These are rare causes for a bitter taste in your mouth and will usually be accompanied by other symptoms. But if you have any concerns, you should schedule an appointment with your physician.
While mouthwashes can often remove the bad taste, sometimes it can linger to become a problem for much of the day. An effective way to remove the taste if mouthwash doesn’t work is to chew fresh mint leaves, coriander leaves, or parsley. All of these will freshen your breath and counteract the metallic taste.
Ladanum (mastic), a resin derived from the Pistacia lentiscus tree can be used for breath freshening. Other folk cures include parsley (Italy), cloves (Iraq), guava peels (Thailand), and eggshells (China). Since the 1960s, the preeminent researcher in this field has been Tonzetich. Bad breath is associated with the presence of volatile sulfur compounds, primarily hydrogen sulfide and methylmercaptan.
Daily Flossing reduces bad breath as does tongue scrapping.
Rosenberg M, McCulloch CA. Measurement of oral malodor: current methods and future prospects. J Periodontol. 1992 Sep. 63(9):776-82. [Medline].
Rosenberg M, Kulkarni GV, Bosy A, et al. Reproducibility and sensitivity of oral malodor measurements with a portable sulphide monitor. J Dent Res. 1991 Nov. 70(11):1436-40. [Medline].
Updated: September 8, 2018 by Dr. Kimberly Langdon M.D. All medical facts and points stated on this page are correct as of this date. Please be aware that new content and additional references were added in this last update. All the content and media has been uploaded by Lily Greene our webmaster, who is also in charge of page design.