Bad Breath? Here’s What Might Be Causing It

October 7, 2019

Chronic bad breath, or halitosis, can cause great embarrassment for those who have it. It’s common to have bad breath when you first wake up, or when you eat certain foods such as onions or garlic. But if your bad breath lasts for days or weeks, it’s best to see your dentist to find out what’s causing it. In some cases, simple changes to your dental routine or lifestyle can fix the problem. Below are some common causes of bad breath.

Poor dental care

If you don’t brush and floss daily, bits of food get stuck between your teeth. As the food particles decay, they emit sulfur compounds and get attacked by bacteria, causing bad breath. Gum disease or cavities may eventually develop. Gum disease creates pockets between the teeth and gums, which can trap more odor-causing bacteria and become infected.

To help prevent cavities and gum disease, brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Bacteria can also hang out on your tongue, so try using a tongue scraper once a day.

Dry mouth

Saliva helps neutralize bacteria and remove food particles from between your teeth. When your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, bacteria can multiply in your mouth and cause bad breath. Dry mouth also encourages plaque buildup, which causes cavities and gum disease.

Various things cause dry mouth, including mouth breathing, certain medications, and health conditions. To get your saliva flowing, chew sugarless gum or use a mouthwash formulated for dry mouth. Also drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Tobacco use

In addition to raising your risk of tooth decay and oral cancer, tobacco gives you bad breath. The chemicals found in cigars and cigarettes remain in your mouth and lungs after you’ve finished smoking. This gives you the infamous “smoker’s breath.” Smoking also causes dry mouth, mentioned above as another cause of bad breath.


Bacteria can grow along the gum line in denture wearers. Bits of food may also get underneath the dentures, causing an unpleasant odor. To keep bacteria at bay, brush your dentures after meals, and soak them in a denture-cleaning solution daily.

Nose and throat problems

Bad breath often occurs with sinus infections. When excess mucus builds up in your sinuses, it can become infected with bacteria, causing bad breath. Tonsil stones, small bits of debris that hide in the craters of your tonsils, can also cause your breath to reek. Tonsil stones are commonly made of materials such as bacteria, food particles, mucus, and dead cells—so they obviously don’t smell great! For issues such as sinus infections and tonsil stones, seeing a doctor is your best bet.

Getting Help for Bad Breath

If you feel embarrassed or concerned about the smell of your breath, schedule an appointment with Hunt Valley Dental. We provide a “judgment free” environment for you to discuss your dental issues. We are happy to work with you to find a solution and help you achieve great dental health.



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