Common causes of a bitter taste on the tongue include pregnancy, certain antibiotics and impaired senses from smoking. Acid reflux and vomiting can also leave a temporary pungent taste in the mouth, according to Healthgrades.
Symptoms that often accompany a bitter taste include dry mouth, excessive salivation, bleeding gums and swollen tonsils. Confusion, shortness of breath and slurred speech are more critical symptoms, notes Healthgrades. Individuals able to taste the compound PTC are more sensitive to bitter flavors than others due to their sense of smell and the sensory neurons in their taste buds. Babies are born with approximately 10,000 taste buds, though this number dwindles as they grow.