Top 10 Causes of Bad Breath

7 min read

Top 10 Causes of Bad Breath

Bad Breath is considered one of the least attractive traits a person can have! Here are the top 10 causes of bad breath and what you can do to treat it!

    1. Foods

    Onion and Garlic

    The breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth can increase bacteria and cause a foul odor. Eating certain foods, such as onions, garlic and spices, also can cause bad breath. After you digest these foods, they enter your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs and affect your breath.

    2. Tobacco Products

    Tobacco Products

    Smoking causes its own unpleasant mouth odor. Smokers and oral tobacco users are also more likely to have gum disease, another main cause of bad breath.

    3. Poor Dental Hygiene

    If you don't brush and floss daily, food particles remain in your mouth, causing bad breath. A colorless, sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your teeth. If not brushed away, plaque can irritate your gums and eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis). Your tongue also can trap bacteria that produce odors.     

    4. Unclean or poor fitting dentures

    Dentures in Water

    Dentures that aren't cleaned regularly or don't fit properly can harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles.

    5. Dry Mouth

    Picture of Women with Dry Mouth

    Saliva helps cleanse your mouth, removing particles that cause bad odors. A condition called dry mouth or xerostomia (zeer–o-STOE-me-uh) can contribute to bad breath because production of saliva is decreased. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep, leading to "morning breath," and it worsens if you sleep with your mouth open. Chronic dry mouth can be caused by a problem with your salivary glands and some diseases.

    6. Medications


    Some medications can indirectly produce bad breath by contributing to dry mouth. Others can be broken down in the body to release chemicals that can be carried on your breath.

    7. Infections in your mouth

     Infections in your mouth

    Bad breath can be caused by surgical wounds after oral surgery, such as tooth removal, or as a result of tooth decay, gum disease or mouth sores.

    8. Other mouth, nose, and throat conditions

     Mouth, nose, and throat conditions

    Bad breath can occasionally stem from small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odor. Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat, which can contribute to postnasal drip, also can cause bad breath.

    9. Acid Reflux

    Acid Reflux

    Acid Reflux also reffered to as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Its a condition were acidic gastric fluid is regurgitated into the esophagus, causing heartburn and bad breath.

    10. Cancer and Metabolic Disorders

    Cancer and Metabolic Disorders

    Diseases, such as some cancers, and conditions such as metabolic disorders, can cause a distinctive breath odor as a result of chemicals they produce. Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can be associated with bad breath. Bad breath in young children can be caused by a foreign body, such as a piece of food, lodged in a nostril.


    To reduce bad breath, help avoid cavities and lower your risk of gum disease, consistently practice good oral hygiene. Further treatment for bad breath can vary, depending on the cause. If your bad breath is thought to be caused by an underlying health condition, your dentist will likely refer you to your primary care provider.

    For causes related to oral health, your dentist will work with you to help you better control that condition. Dental measures may include:

    1. Mouth rinses and toothpastes: If your bad breath is due to a buildup of bacteria (plaque) on your teeth, your dentist may recommend a mouth rinse to neutralize the toxins of the bacteria and limit their growth. Your dentist may also recommend a toothpaste that neutralizes the toxins of the bacteria and limit their growth.

    2. Treatment of dental disease: If you have gum disease, you may be referred to a gum specialist (periodontist). Gum disease can cause gums to pull away from your teeth, leaving deep pockets that fill with odor-causing bacteria. Sometimes only professional cleaning removes these bacteria. Your dentist might also recommend replacing faulty tooth restorations, a breeding ground for bacteria.

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