What Causes Bad Breath? 15 Things You Need to Know


Bad breath, or halitosis, is more than just a social faux pas. It can indicate health problems or insufficient oral hygiene. But what exactly causes that unpleasant odor in your mouth? Here are 15 common culprits that you might not be aware of.

Poor Oral Hygiene


Paying attention to oral hygiene often leads to good breath. When you leave food particles in your mouth, they break down and release foul smells. Brush and floss your teeth daily and flossing daily, you will prevent this buildup of food particles and kill the smell from the root.

Gum Disease

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Known medically as periodontal disease, it is an infection of the gums. Two symptoms of this illness are an unpleasant taste in the mouth and a bad-smelling breath. You can prevent this disease and its symptoms by regular dental check-ups and cleanings.

Dry Mouth

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Saliva keeps the mouth clean and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria. When the mouth is dry, bacteria will thrive there, leading to foul breath. Besides dehydration, this is another reason to drink plenty of water. It also helps to use saliva-stimulating products.

Certain Food and Drink

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Garlic, onions, coffee, alcohol, and other foods contain volatile compounds that can move to the lungs and be expelled through the breath. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash will reduce the impact of these foods on your breath.

Smoking and Tobacco Use

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Smoking and using other tobacco products have several disadvantages besides staining your teeth, and one is bad breath. They can dry out the mouth and leave a lingering odor. You’ll notice an improvement in your breath and overall health if you quit smoking and tobacco use.

Poorly Fitting Dental Appliances

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If you have badly fitted dental inserts, food particles can get stuck in them, leading to nasty-smelling breath. You must clean your dental appliances regularly and visit your dentist for adjustments when needed.

Tonsil Stones

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Also called tonsilloliths, they are small, calcified deposits that form in the crevices of the tonsils. These deposits release foul-smelling gases that change your breath smell. To prevent them, gargle with salt water regularly and take oral hygiene seriously.

Dieting and Fasting

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Dieting or fasting can cause poor breath from fat breakdown, which produces ketones in the breath. To avoid this, drink lots of water and maintain oral hygiene.



Stress causes dry mouth, harmful bacteria, and bad habits that worsen your breath. To improve it, try meditation and exercise to reduce stress.


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Some antidepressants, antihistamines, and diuretics will leave you with a dry mouth, a breeding ground for foul breath. If you suspect that your medication is causing this, talk to your doctor about alternatives or ways to manage this side effect.


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Snoring contributes to bad breath by drying out your throat, allowing bacteria to build up and release foul-smelling gases. Utilize a humidifier in your bedroom to address any underlying causes of snoring, like sleep apnea.

Postnasal Drip

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Several things, including allergies, colds, or sinus infections, can make mucus drip down the back of the throat. The mucus may harbor bacteria and lead to funny breath.

Certain Diets

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Ketogenic and other low-carb diets may lead to bad breath due to the breakdown of fats and the production of ketones. This is often described as fruity or acetone-like. Staying hydrated and brushing and flossing often will go a long way to help in this case.

Hormonal Changes

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Bodily changes such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can contribute to poor breath. Some changes during these periods can affect saliva production and lead to a parched mouth.

Respiratory Conditions

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Chronic issues like chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis also affect your breath. These conditions can produce excess mucus and bacteria in the lungs, which can be expelled through the breath. Managing these conditions with appropriate medical treatment is your ticket out of foul breath.


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