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what causes bad breath?

causes of bad breath

Here we’ll discuss possible causes of bad breath.

Bad breath, commonly known as halitosis, is caused by poor dental hygiene and can be a symptom of various health problems. It may be embarrassing and may even cause anxiety. Bad breath can also be made worse by the food you eat and other unhealthy lifestyle habits.


Tobacco products cause different types of mouth odors. So, whether you smoke a pipe, smoke cigarettes, or chew gum, they all cause bad breath and lead to far more severe oral health problems like gum disease, lung cancer, and other diseases.

Poor oral hygiene

If you don’t brush your teeth and clean your entire mouth regularly, food particles can linger in your mouth, and sticky bacteria (known as plaque) can form on your teeth. Plaque can irritate your gums if not brushed away regularly and eventually creates plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis), and this bacteria in your mouth produce a lousy breath odor. Poor oral health also causes other oral health conditions such as gum disease and cavities associated with bad breath. The greatest defense against bad breath is to maintain consistent and routine oral hygiene.

Dry Mouth

causes of bad breath

 Saliva is essential to moistening the mouth and helps keep your mouth clean by eliminating food particles that cause bad breath. A condition known as xerostomia or dry mouth can lead to bad breath because of reduced saliva production. This happens while you sleep, which is why most people’s breath is a little stinky when they wake up. Morning breath is much worse for people who sleep with their mouths open. However, if the issue continues throughout the day, treatment may be necessary.


Foods enter your circulation, then move to your lungs, influencing the air you breathe. If you eat meals with strong odors (such as onions or garlic), brushing and flossing and mouthwash will temporarily mask the odor. This odor will linger until the meals have passed through your system. Other meals that might contribute to foul breath include:

  • Certain spices
  • Pastrami
  • Cheese
  • Orange juice or soda

Infections in your mouth

Other dental reasons for foul breath are poorly fitted dental appliances, yeast infections in the mouth, and cavities.

Digestive Issues

Poor digestion, constipation, or bowel problems can all result in an unpleasant breath odor. If you have acid reflux regularly, smells from recently consumed meals may make their way back up the esophagus and out of the mouth, resulting in foul breath.

Other causes

Bad breath might indicate the presence of various diseases or disorders such as:

  • Postnasal drip
  • Infections of the tonsils
  • Diabetes 
  • Liver or kidney problems
  • Bronchitis or pneumonia
  •  Bad breath may be a sign of metabolic disorders and cancer.

When to consult your doctor

Review your oral hygiene routines if you have bad breath. Change your lifestyle, such as brushing your teeth and tongue after meals and drinking lots of water. Ask your dentist if your bad breath persists after making such changes. If your dentist believes that your bad breath is the result of a more serious disease, she or he may send you to a doctor to determine the source of the odor.


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