Does Wellbutrin cause bad breath? (+3)
In this article, we will answer the question “Does Wellbutrin cause bad breath?” and discuss other issues like possible links between Wellbutrin and bad breath, and what to do if you develop bad breath while taking Wellbutrin.
Does Wellbutrin cause bad breath?
Yes, Wellbutrin (bupropion) may cause bad breath. Wellbutrin is known to cause dry mouth and taste perversion as side effects (1), this may influence the occurrence of bad breath in persons using Wellbutrin.
Wellbutrin is an atypical antidepressant which is primarily prescribed for major depressive disorder, smoking cessation and as a pre-anaesthetic agent (2). It works well for the general population but different persons may experience different side effects based on their body’s response to the drug.
Reach out to your prescriber or pharmacist if you experience bad breath or other effects while taking this drug. Your prescriber may discuss other options with you or adjust your dose.
What does the research suggest?
According to research, wellbutrin can cause dry mouth by reducing the production and secretion of saliva (1). The reduction of saliva in the mouth promotes bacterial growth and encourages the formation of volatile sulfur compounds with offensive odour (3).
This implies that wellbutrin can increase the chances of having bad breath. Understanding this side effect and discussing it early with your prescriber may impact positively on the outcome.
What are the possible links between Wellbutrin and bad breath?
Bad breath can occur due to several reasons while taking Wellbutrin. These include:
Taste perversion: Wellbutrin is known to cause taste perversion or alter the sense of taste in some persons as a side effect. This may indirectly affect the way they smell things and give them the impression of having bad breath (1).
Dry mouth: Dry mouth due to the reduction of saliva production is a commonly occurring side effect of several medications including Wellbutrin. A dry mouth often promotes the production of volatile sulfur compounds due to increased bacterial growth.
Drug by-product: Most medicines are broken down by the body to by-products for easy excretion, wellbutrin is broken down to hydroxybupropion (morpholinol) which has an unpleasant fishy smell (4).
Hydroxybupropion is carried in the blood and may diffuse into the lungs (1, 4), from where it is expelled as exhaled air and may cause bad breath.
Most medicines contain inactive ingredients which may confer a particular colour, taste or odour to the tablets, ingredients like cysteine hydrochloride used in the production of Wellbutrin have a sulfur-like smell and may contribute to bad breath (5).
Other factors: It is important to note that lifestyle factors can play a vital role in the development of bad breath. Lifestyle factors like poor oral hygiene, diet, and pathologic conditions like dental disease may contribute to the development of bad breath.
What to do if Wellbutrin causes bad breath?
If wellbutrin causes you bad breath, you may consider some of these strategies which can be helpful in managing the effect.
- Drink water: Drinking water regularly keeps you hydrated, increases saliva production and may help combat dry mouth. Chewing sugar-free gums may also help keep with saliva production.
- Good oral hygiene: Maintaining good oral hygiene by regularly brushing your teeth, flossing, cleaning the tongue and using a mouthwash solution can help with bad breath.
- Diet: Avoiding certain foods like garlic, onions and sugary drinks may be helpful as these foods are known to have characteristic odour and can magnify bad breath.
- Dental checks: Several health conditions are known to cause bad breath, regular dental checks may help to identify underlying health conditions which may contribute to bad breath.
- Seek medical advice: If bad breath does not go away while taking Wellbutrin, consult your prescriber to evaluate your medication. Your prescriber may recommend adjusting your dose or changing to an alternative medication to manage the symptoms.
It is important to note that not everybody taking Wellbutrin will develop bad breath as people respond differently to medicines. Seeking advice from your prescriber early enough if you experience bad breath with Wellbutrin will help minimise the effect.
Other side effects of Wellbutrin
Most medicines possess unintended effects, it is important to understand that not everyone will have the same effects. Some side effects of Wellbutrin include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Suicidal ideation
- Hypersensitivity reaction
Wellbutrin may cause several other side effects. Speak with your prescriber if you experience unusual side effects while taking wellbutrin.
In this article, we have answered the question ‘Does wellbutrin cause bad breath?’. We have also discussed possible reasons why Wellbutrin may cause bad breath and what to do if you develop bad breath while taking Wellbutrin.
Was this helpful?
National Center for Biotechnology Information. “PubChem Compound Summary for CID 444, Bupropion” PubChem, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Bupropion. Accessed 24 October, 2023.
Stall N, Godwin J, Juurlink D. Bupropion abuse and overdose. CMAJ. 2014 Sep 16;186(13):1015. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.131534. Epub 2014 Apr 28. PMID: 24778361; PMCID: PMC4162783.
Aylıkcı BU, Colak H. Halitosis: From diagnosis to management. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013 Jan;4(1):14-23. doi: 10.4103/0976-9668.107255. PMID: 23633830; PMCID: PMC3633265.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Summary for CID 446, Hydroxybupropion. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Hydroxybupropion. Accessed Oct. 24, 2023.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Summary for CID 60960, L-Cysteine hydrochloride. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/L-Cysteine-hydrochloride. Accessed Oct. 24, 2023.