You expect certain foods to have a lingering effect, but frequently experiencing a bad taste in your mouth is a different concern. Any unpleasant taste that doesn’t improve is a red flag alerting you to a dental problem or potentially serious health condition.

Our Litchfield Dental Care team protects your oral health by identifying the cause of the problem and providing dental care customized to restore your health and eliminate nasty tastes in your mouth.

Are you curious to know what might cause your taste buds to trigger such offensive flavors? Here are the most common causes.

Dental problems

Whether the bad taste in your mouth is frequent or constant, it most likely arises from one of the following dental problems:

Poor dental hygiene

You may experience an unpleasant taste if you don’t keep up with brushing and flossing. Bacteria and tiny pieces of food get stuck between teeth and in crevices, causing a sour taste.

Poor dental hygiene usually doesn’t cause a long-lasting taste problem if you brush at least once daily. However, inconsistent dental habits are different.

Not brushing daily (or brushing daily but not using the proper technique) leads to dental diseases that leave you with a persistent bad taste in your mouth.


The bacteria in your mouth thrive on the sugars you consume. Bacteria, sugar, and saliva form a sticky film that sticks to your teeth (plaque).

Without regular brushing, plaque stays on your teeth and hardens into tartar. Unfortunately, you can’t eliminate tartar with brushing.

The problem with plaque and tartar is that they hold the bacteria against your tooth enamel. Bacteria release acids, eroding the enamel and resulting in cavities.

Cavities create a spot where tiny particles of food can get stuck. The rotting food may cause a lousy taste lasting until it’s brushed away, breaks free, or we repair the decay.

Gum disease (gingivitis)

Gingivitis, the top cause of an unpleasant taste, develops as bacteria invade your gums and cause an infection. The infection causes a bitter, sour, or metallic taste in your mouth.

The unpleasant taste may be constant or might come and go. You may also have other signs of gingivitis, like bleeding when you brush or red, inflamed gums. The rotten taste and other symptoms last until you seek dental care for the gum infection.

Without treatment, you can develop more worrisome problems than a bad taste in your mouth. The gum infection progresses to advanced gum disease, called periodontitis.

Periodontitis causes severe inflammation, leading to gum damage, jawbone erosion, and weakened periodontal ligaments (the ligaments holding the tooth in place). These changes cause tooth loss.

Dry mouth

A dry mouth that upsets your taste buds isn’t about needing to drink water. Dry mouth is a medical condition that develops when your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva.

Saliva is essential for your dental health because it:

  • Lubricates your mouth (including your gums and teeth)
  • Rinses away food particles
  • Helps you swallow
  • Protects your teeth

Your saliva helps prevent cavities and gum disease because it contains substances that fight bacteria. A dry mouth alone may cause a bad taste in your mouth or contribute to the dental conditions responsible for the nasty taste.

Dry mouth has many possible causes, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sleeping with your mouth open
  • Oral yeast infection
  • Certain medications
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Cancer treatments
  • Smoking

We can diagnose a dry mouth and treat causes like sleep apnea, snoring, and an oral yeast infection.


A bad taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away may be due to a medical condition called dysgeusia. This condition alters your sense of taste, making everything you eat taste sour, bitter, metallic, or rotten. Sometimes, dysgeusia makes sweet and salty foods taste bland.

In addition to distorting your taste, dysgeusia often causes a bad taste in your mouth, even if you haven’t recently eaten.

Underlying health conditions cause dysgeusia. A few of the most common include:

  • Loss of the sense of smell
  • Swelling caused by gum, mouth, and throat infections
  • Inflamed tongue
  • Dentures
  • Dry mouth
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Metabolic disorders (such as diabetes and thyroid disease)
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (especially zinc and B vitamin deficiencies)
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Dentures and swelling in your mouth cause dysgeusia if they interfere with taste receptors.

Call Litchfield Dental Care or use online booking to schedule an appointment and get expert care for a bad taste in your mouth. Our team makes your oral health a priority and treats each patient with the highest level of compassion and respect.

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