Causes of Bad Breath

Bad Breath: Major Causes and Early Prevention

Halitosis, commonly called bad breath, can result from poor dental health habits and may already be a sign of other health problems. Bad breath can also get worse by unhealthy lifestyle habits and the types of food you eat. Bad breath odors actually vary depending on the source or the underlying cause and the kind of dental hygiene of the person.

There are some people who worry too much about how their breath smells even though they have little or no mouth odor at all, while there are others who have bad breath and don’t even know they have it. However, if the smell doesn’t go away after much cleaning, and no amount of tooth brushing can remove it, then you may be doing some things that may have caused the odor. The good news is, once you’ve discovered the source of your bad breath, it’s usually easy to fix. So if your breath has been smelling off lately and you’re not really sure why then read one of these possible causes and early prevention.

What Causes Bad Breath?


The breakdown of food particles on and between your teeth can likely increase the buildup of bacteria and cause a foul odor. Eating strong flavored foods and drinks, such as onions, garlic, coffee, and alcohol, can make your breath smell. After the intake of these foods, they will enter the bloodstream, which is carried to your lungs and affect the smell of your breath. Bad breath caused by food and drink intake is usually temporary. But it can be avoided by not eating or drinking these strong types of food and drink. Having good dental hygiene will also help eradicate the smell.

Poor Dental Hygiene

If you don’t floss and brush regularly, some food particles will remain in your mouth, causing bad breath. If not cleaned away immediately, plaque can eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and may irritate your gums. Your tongue can also trap the bacteria that causes the odors so better clean them as well. Dentures that aren’t cleaned frequently or don’t fit properly into your mouth can cause bacteria and eventually bad breath. These bacteria are responsible for the development of tooth decay and gum disease.

Dry Mouth

Saliva can help clean your mouth, which can remove particles that can cause bad odors. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep and leads to morning breath. It definitely worsens if you sleep with your mouth wide open. Sometimes, having dry mouth means that there is a problem in the salivary glands or when you breathe using your mouth instead of your nose. This can lead to the buildup of bacteria in the mouth and may lead to bad breath.


Smoking is another cause of bad breath. But it doesn’t only make your breath smell. Smoking can also stain your teeth, irritate the gums, and reduce your sense of taste. A lot of smokers and tobacco users are also more likely to develop gum disease, which is another leading cause of bad breath. When you stop smoking, it will significantly lower the risk of having gum disease and help prevent the unpleasant odor in your mouth.

Crash Dieting

Crash dieting or low-carbohydrate diets are another possible cause of having bad breath. It’s enough to say that losing weight too fast can definitely lead to having a bad mouth odor. Crash dieting can break down fat in the body, which creates chemicals called ketones that can cause the smell on your breath. You may think that these low-carb diets are good for your body and waistline, but you might not be able to say the same for your health and breath.

Infections in Your Mouth

There are other causes of bad breath, from surgical wounds after dental surgery, such as tooth removal, to the result of gum disease, mouth sores or tooth decay. Bad breath can also be the cause of any mouth, nose and throat conditions. Sometimes, bacteria can form on the tonsils or at the back of the throat and produce the bad smelling odor. The inflammation or infection of the nose, throat or sinuses can also cause halitosis.

Getting Proper Treatment

The best method to overcome bad breath is to have a good oral hygiene. It ensures that the buildup of cavities is avoided and reduces the likelihood of gum disease. Here are several tips to prevent halitosis.

  • Brush teeth at least twice a day, but preferably after each meal
  • Change your toothbrush every 2-3 months
  • Floss regularly to avoid buildup of food particles and plaque
  • Dentures should be cleaned as recommended on a daily basis
  • Brush tongue especially if you have dry mouth or a heavy smoker
  • Drink lots of water
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol, both of which can dehydrate the mouth
  • Avoid eating onions, garlic, and spicy food
  • Eat foods that are rich in fiber
  • Sugary foods are linked to bad breath
  • Eat breakfast that includes rough foods to help clean the back of the tongue
  • Have regular dental check-ups to ensure healthy oral hygiene