What Causes Bad Breath

Bad Breath

What Causes Bad Breath or “Halitosis”, which is the medical name for ‘bad breath or fetor oris’ is a unique symptom in which a noticeably persistent and unpleasant odor is usually present in the exhaled breath. This is usually as a result of critical bacteria build up in the mouth.

It is often quite difficult for the affected individuals to notice their situation as they become used to their bad smell and unconsciously accept it as part of them. This ends up frustrating those around them, especially those who regularly converse with them. Below are the common causes of bad breath.

Discover The Causes of Bad Breath


Most of the tobacco products are usually associated with causing bad breath. Cigarette smokers usually have a unique unpleasant smell that resembles that of an ashtray. Apart from that, regular smoking is likely to increase a person’s risk of developing gum disease which is a major cause of halitosis. Those wishing to eliminate this type of bad breath are advised to stop smoking as it is the only sure cure for the condition.

Medical Issues

A number of medical issues are also known to cause halitosis. A variety of people with nasal problems including sinusitis can develop bad breath with time unless the conditions are treated in time. Other local infections, especially those of the respiratory tract, diabetes, chronic bronchitis, and kidney or liver ailments can also cause the condition. Sometimes tumors or infections of the throat, lung and mouth can also cause halitosis.

Bad Breath

The Fish odor syndrome also popularly known as trimethylaminuria1 is a rare medical condition that is also associated with bad breath. The syndrome typically manages to cause body odor and bad breath that is similar to the smell of a fish. Trimethylaminuria mainly occurs when the body loses its ability to break down the trimethylamine compound that is commonly found in certain foods.

This leads to the build-up of the chemical compound in the body, forcing the appropriate mechanisms to release it in the form of urine, sweat, and breath.

Fasting or Crash dieting

Crash dieting can lead to a sickly sweet smell on one’s breath. Fasting leads to the body breaking down stored fat so as to provide the much-needed energy to sustain normal body functions. The breakdown results in the formation of chemicals called ketones2which are then breathed out producing the unpleasant smell.

Morning bad breath

It is normal for most people to develop a certain degree of bad breath after a normal night’s sleep. There is no reason to be concerned as this is a normal occurrence as a result of the mouth getting stagnate and dry overnight due to the reduction in saliva levels. The unpleasant breath is likely to clear once the flow of saliva increases, especially after one decides to have breakfast in the morning.

Dry mouth (Xerostomia)

Mouth saliva is responsible for cleansing the mouth while removing any foreign particles that are likely to cause odor. Reduced saliva flow is, therefore, likely to cause xerostomia leading to an unpleasant breath. There are many causes of dry mouth and they include a variety of salivary gland problems, a number of medications, uncontrolled breathing through the mouth, lack of body fluids, side effects of medicines like tricyclic antidepressants drugs among other issues.

Foods and drinks

Common foods like onions and garlic often contribute to halitosis and once they have been digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, they are then transferred to the lungs for expulsion. It is easier to identify individuals who have recently eaten or drunk alcoholic drinks, spicy food and garlic due to their unique tastes. However, this type of unpleasant smell is temporal and can be cured by avoiding eating such foods.


There are some medicines that are known to cause halitosis and they include Amphetamines, Dimethyl sulfoxide, Disulfiram, Betel, Phenothiazines, chloral hydrate among others. It is considered wise to always discuss with your doctor any available alternative medicines in case the ones you are using are causing an unpleasant smell or any other critical side effects.

Poor dental hygiene

This is considered to be among the leading causes of bad breath. Individuals who avoid brushing their teeth and floss them daily are likely to suffer from halitosis among other serious dental issues. This is because food particles are likely to remain in one’s mouth while creating a welcoming environment where bacteria can easily thrive.

A sticky, colorless film often forms on your teeth after eating, hence irritating one’s gums if not brushed away. The uneven surfaces present in the tongue can also trap bacteria leading to bad breath.

The presence of bacteria in the mouth results in the breaking down of debris and proteins found in the mouth releasing foul-smelling gasses. Food often sticks between teeth, making it crucial to engage in flossing as brushing alone cannot clear the bits of food.

How to eliminate bad breath

In order to effectively eliminate bad breath, one must practice regular good oral hygiene, including using mouthwashes, brushing teeth regularly, cleaning the tongue and cleaning between the teeth. Whenever possible, schedule regular dental visits so that you can undergo a thorough dental check-up and cleaning. It is also recommended to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste in order to remove food debris while eliminating unnecessary bacteria from your mouth.

Talking to a dentist about serious breath issues can be quite helpful as he or she can identify the root cause of the condition while developing an effective treatment plan that is personalized to work for you. and brush your tongue. It is also important to chew gum occasionally as it leads to the increase in the flow of saliva while helping in flushing the mouth while removing any remaining debris.

Always avoid giving children sugary foods and regular smokers should try to quit the vice to improve their oral hygiene among other health issues.¬†Always eat a heavy, but healthy breakfast in the morning filled with rough foods as they can help in cleaning the back of one’s tongue removing the unreachable bacteria. The use of probiotic treatment specifically streptococcus salivarius K12 can be helpful in eliminating bacteria found in the mouth.

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