Top 5 Causes of Bad Breath

About 35-45% of the world’s population suffers from a form of halitosis, or more commonly known as “bad breath”.

We have all heard of “morning breath” which is caused primarily from bacteria that has been festering in your dry mouth for the length of time you are asleep. In this blog, we will explore the causes of bad breath as well as some remedies to improve and/or eliminate it completely.

Chronic (regular) bad breath is most often caused by poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease or tooth decay.

#1 ) Poor Oral Hygiene

Bacteria buildup in your mouth is a main cause of bad breath.  Several things can impact poor oral hygiene:

Brushing and flossing:

Not flossing and not brushing regularly is poor oral hygiene that leads to bad breath.  Bacteria accumulates between the papilla around the tongue.

Brushing 2x/day and flossing at least once will help dislodge bad breath-causing bacteria. Using a tongue scraper or toothbrush to clean the top surface of your tongue will also prevent bad breath, as well as give you that “just at the dentist” clean. Remember to visit your hygienist AT LEAST 2x/year to make sure your tissues are in healthy condition!


If you use dentures and you don’t clean them properly, bacteria can accumulate in them and cause bad breath. Follow your dentists recommendations for proper denture cleaning and care.

Teeth Cavities:

Food can some times lodge itself in teeth cavities and cause bad breath. If you suspect you have cavities, please call your dentist and let them know so that you can take care of them before it gets worse.

#2) Periodontal Gum Disease

Gum disease can be a huge risk factor for bad breath. The tongue can also be the perfect place for smelly bacteria to call home. during your dental exam, your trained dental health care team looks for signs of gun disease.

#3) Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can contribute to bad breath in a number of ways. It can create rough surfaces or pockets in the tooth where bacteria will collect. Decayed teeth cannot be cleaned properly, which will lead to the cavity getting worse and may result in an infection. Infections can often leave a terrible smell/taste that is nearly impossible to clean without treatment. It is critical that you follow up with your dentist twice a year to assure your teeth are cavity free!

#4) Medical Conditions and Prescriptions

Certain medical conditions and prescriptions can cause bad breath. See list below for some:

Medical Conditions:

  • Sinusitis
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Kidney or Liver failure
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sore throat
  • Tonsillitis
  • Infection of air passage

Medical Prescriptions:

  • Antihistamines
  • Sinus Drugs
  • Antidepressants
  • Any medication that reduces salivary flow

Keeping your mouth lubricated can help with medication-induced dry mouth. Mouth rinses such as Biotene have proven to be effective along with chewing gum, sucking on lozenges and drinking frequent sips of water.

*If you believe your medication is causing your bad breath, DO NOT STOP taking it. Consult your family physician with your concerns*

#5) Smoking and Alcohol

Yes, both smoking and alcohol can lead to bad breath. Ensure you brush and floss properly to decrease the possibility of bad breath due to smoking and consuming alcohol.

If you or someone you know is concerned about bad breath, the first step is a dental check up. Your dentist will be able to confirm or rule out the source of the bad breath.

When the cause is found, treatment will be determined and explained by your dentist. If the source of the bad breath is your mouth, there is little chance that mouth washes or mints can treat the problem. They usually mask the problem for a short period of time, and can sometimes exacerbate the situation, for instance, mouthwashes that contain alcohol cause dry mouth and usually make the bad breath worse.

Following a good oral hygiene routine and receiving regular dental check ups are the best ways to prevent bad breath.

Give us a call today to schedule an appointment and get rid of bad breath forever!

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