6 Treatable Causes of Bad Breath

May 7th 2016

Consult with your dentist if bad breath persists for several days without relief. If your dentist determines your oral hygiene practices are sufficient enough to alleviate bad breath, he may recommend you make an appointment with your primary care physician to ascertain a cause.

Poor Hygiene

Eliminating bad breath starts with good oral hygiene. Pieces of food get stuck between teeth, and you should rid of these particles by brushing and flossing daily. Good oral hygiene also eliminates the sticky film, called plaque, that builds up on teeth and causes swelling between your teeth and gums. Debris buildup on your tongue may cause bad breath as well. Mouthwash designed to kill bacteria within your mouth may also help oral hygiene and eliminate bad breath.

Certain Foods

Eating certain foods increases bacterial buildup in your mouth and makes bad breath worse. Onions, garlic, spices and other vegetables reach your lungs after digestion and lead to bad breath every time you exhale. Consider reducing or eliminating foods that create a foul odor within your lungs.

Tobacco Products

Smoking and using other tobacco products creates bad breath on its own. Long-term use may stain teeth, reduce your ability to taste foods and cause gums to swell. Gum disease exacerbates bad breath, and you may eat certain foods that lead to odors without even realizing your breath smells.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, could cause bad breath due to lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps cleanse the mouth by removing particles of food that lead to bad breath. Dry mouth occurs naturally during sleep, and it could also happen when you breathe through your mouth too much. Dehydration could cause a dry sensation in your mouth as well. Medications may lead to dry mouth, so discuss any possible side effects of medicines with your doctor. Some salivary gland malfunctions or diseases may also contribute to dry mouth. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to alleviate some instances of dry mouth.

Acid Reflux

Chronic acid reflux, called gastroesophageal reflux disease, may lead to bad breath. This occurs when stomach acid goes up into the lower esophagus and is also another cause dry mouth. Eat smaller meals, consume lower-acid foods and take antacid medications to reduce heartburn symptoms.

Diseases and Disorders

Some diseases and disorders, such as pneumonia, the common cold and liver problems, may cause bad breath. Metabolic diseases could produce chemical side effects that lead to bad breath. Postnasal drip from a cold that irritates your throat may create a foul odor in your mouth. Treat the underlying conditions to eliminate bad breath in these instances.


Doctors and dentists note several causes of bad breath, and approximately 80 percent of them revolve around some kind of oral disorder, problem or difficulty. Other causes of bad breath include an underlying health condition or disease that may require more serious medical treatment. Consider these treatable causes of bad breath and whether to see a dentist about the problem.

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