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What Are the Common Causes of Sour Saliva?

A. Pasbjerg
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Sour saliva can be the result of a number of common problems, some of them fairly short lived and others more long term. Eating certain foods, taking some types of medication, and vitamin deficiencies can all lead to sour, bad-tasting saliva. Gum disease, infected teeth, and other dental problems may be to blame. Many times a buildup of anaerobic bacteria on the back of the tongue is the culprit, a situation that can be exacerbated by post-nasal drip, chronic dry mouth, or simply a decrease in saliva production during sleep. People with heartburn may also notice a sour taste due to acid and undigested food coming back up to their mouths.

In many cases, sour saliva is a brief problem that resolves itself once the cause is no longer present. Eating certain foods that are sour or have a strong flavor may leave a sour taste for a brief time. It may be a side effect of certain medications, but should resolve once the drugs are discontinued. Deficiencies of certain vitamins such as B12 may cause sour saliva, but this can be corrected by adding a supplement to one's diet.

Dental problems are another frequent cause of sour saliva. People with gum disease, where the gum tissue becomes swollen, inflamed, and infected, may notice their saliva is sour and unpleasant. An infected, abscessed tooth may also create a sour flavor due to the excess bacteria in the mouth.

For most people, an increase in bacteria in the mouth is behind their sour saliva. This often simply occurs because less saliva is produced during sleep to break it down, leading to a sour taste and bad breath in the morning. People with sinus infections may be more prone to sour saliva since mucous on the back of the tongue provides extra protein for the bacteria to grow in. Those with chronic dry mouth may also have problems with excess bacteria in their mouths; the condition can also interfere with the function of one's taste buds, which can exacerbate the impression of a sour taste.

Heartburn may also be behind a case of sour saliva. The condition causes a reflux of stomach acid and sometimes undigested food particles into the throat and mouth, where they can mix with the saliva and turn it sour and sometimes bitter. This can be a one-time or occasional problem, or it can be ongoing for those with a chronic case.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A. Pasbjerg
By A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a The Health Board contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
Discussion Comments
By anon998422 — On Jun 08, 2017

Hello, I've been having saliva taste disorder since almost 3 weeks, started by being sweet then became sour. I've looked up possible causes and I couldn't explain why I have it. I feel it mainly upon swallowing. I have no reflux, no dental problem, and am taking vitamin supplements,

I brush my teeth and use bicarb sometimes but nothing is helping. The only other thing happening is that am doing some fasting, so could that explain this? How can I deal with it because it's becoming annoying!

By anon935182 — On Feb 24, 2014

Every posting shows the same, but one reason for sour saliva or bad taste is liver toxicity or gallbladder problems.

By anon339794 — On Jun 27, 2013

I have suffered from the bad taste of sour saliva for a very long time. The situation worsens at night because I have to wake up in the middle of the night to clean my mouth with fresh water.

I have visited several hospitals but the problem is still there despite that fact that I brush my teeth twice a day -- in the morning and before I go to bed. Someone please advise me. I'm worried about this situation.

By anon330844 — On Apr 19, 2013

What is the treatment for sour saliva due to acidic stomach?

By SarahGen — On Sep 29, 2012

The sour saliva from acid reflux is horrible. It's actually not saliva, it's stomach acid coming up through your throat and into your mouth. It's really gross.

This was actually one of the first symptoms I had when I developed acid reflux. My doctor had asked me if I get sour saliva after meals.

By donasmrs — On Sep 28, 2012

@MikeMason-- Yea, antibiotics can do that. Did she take a strong dose of antibiotics?

I've gotten sour saliva from antibiotics before when I had to take a huge dose for an entire month. I had a several stomach infection and I was taking 3000mg of antibiotics a day for four weeks. After the first week, my mouth started tasting like antibiotics constantly, which was an odd, sour taste.

It was not pleasant at all and it only went away a few weeks I completed my medications. This is probably what happened to your daughter, it will go away eventually.

By stoneMason — On Sep 27, 2012

Can antibiotics cause sour saliva?

My daughter was on a course of antibiotics recently for a bacterial infection. She is done with her course but for the past few days, she has been complaining about her saliva tasting sour.

Should I be worried?

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a The Health Board contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
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