Why do I have Bad Breath?

We have all experienced bad breath at one time or another because it is very normal. A huge struggle people have is not really being able to smell their own breath. This leads to some people being overly paranoid about bad breath when they don’t have to be and others not being conscious about it at all when they should be. If you do experience bad breath but take decently good care of yourself, it can be confusing trying to figure out what has caused it. This article is going to explain what bad breath is, a variety of causes and tips for getting rid of it.

What is halitosis?

Halitosis is the technical term for an unpleasant odor coming from the mouth, or bad breath. It can be hard to describe the experience of halitosis or exactly what it smells like as it usually depends on what the cause is. By having an open discussion with your dentist about your concerns regarding your halitosis, they can help figure out the cause and suggest solutions.

What are common causes of bad breath?

While there are a wide variety of things that can cause bad breath, here are the most common:


After eating flavorful foods like garlic and onions, you may notice your breath smelling different. Usually, the unattractive smell will disappear after brushing your teeth, but if it doesn’t there’s an interesting reason why. When digested, particles from odor-causing food enter your bloodstream and travel to your lungs. When you exhale, the odor from the food particles in your lungs can impact the way your breath smells. It is hard to avoid this type of bad breath unless you plan on never eating these foods again. Unlike other causes of halitosis, this is not one to worry about as it will go away naturally.

Oral Health

Bad breath is often a result of poor oral health. By neglecting your oral health, food particles and bacteria will get trapped in hard to reach places like between teeth, on the tongue or tonsils. When lingering food and harmful bacteria are not removed, they will not only cause bad breath but can lead to other oral issues like cavities and gum disease. Disease, decay and infections in the mouth are also culprits in foul-smelling breath.


When consuming alcohol, as well as drinks that contain caffeine, your body’s natural saliva production decreases. Saliva is essential in keeping a mouth healthy because it will naturally remove harmful bacteria and drink particles. When there is a shortage of saliva and the mouth is not being naturally cleaned, odor-causing bacteria will thrive.

Dry Mouth

This condition causes bad breath very similarly to how alcohol does – when saliva production is low, odor-causing bacteria will get to work. Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is when saliva product decreases extremely or stops. This naturally occurs when you sleep, which is why “morning breath” exists but if it continues to happen while you are awake, there is another cause. Oftentimes dry mouth is caused by an issue with the salivary glands, a side effect of prescription medications or from mouth-breathing.


Tobacco products will leave a distinct, horrible odor in your mouth. Many tobacco users are unaware their breath smells because tobacco affects a user’s sense of smell. Besides bad breath, it also can stain your teeth and increase your risk of various cancers.


By partaking in ‘fad’ diets or not eating a balanced diet, you may be putting yourself at risk for bad breath. For example, since bacteria feeds off of sugar, a diet that is high in sugar will allow odor-causing bacteria to prosper. Other weird methods of eating will cause a change in your body’s metabolism or how it digests food which can cause bad breath.


Bad breath can be caused by a wide variety of illnesses including sinus, respiratory, and tonsil issues as well as kidney and liver problems. Sometimes this is the result of odor-causing bacteria, or it is a sign indicating an illness or disease.

How do you prevent and fix bad breath?

One of the best ways to prevent bad breath is by visiting your dentist regularly. Going to the dentist twice a year will allow your dentist to examine your oral health. They will be able to make recommendations and remove any buildup on your teeth to prevent decay, disease and infection that can all cause bad breath. Besides going to the dentist, good ways to prevent bad breath include taking proper care of your oral health at home, eating a balanced diet, going to the doctor when you are sick, limiting your alcohol consumption and quitting smoking. Not only will these tips help keep your breath odor-free, but they also help promote a happy, healthy lifestyle.

So how do you know if your bad breath is a cause for concern? If you are consistently noticing your smelly breath, it is time to get it checked out because it is always better to be safe than sorry. As previously mentioned, bad breath can indicate illness, disease or even that your body is unhappy with how you are treating it. Your dentist is the best person to talk to about this as they will be able to tell if the smell is caused by something they can fix or refer you to an alternative solution.

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