What causes bad breath? 16 possible conditions

Viewing 16 of 16 results

What Is Breath Odor?

Breath odor problems affect everyone at some point in their lives. Odor can come from the mouth, teeth, or as a result of an underlying health problem. Bad breath odor can be a temporary problem or a chronic condition. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 80 million people suffer from chronic halitosis, or bad breath (AGD, 2012).

What Are the Causes of Breath Odor?

Poor Dental Hygiene

Bacteria breaks down food particles trapped in the teeth or mouth. The combination of the bacteria and decaying food in your mouth produces an unpleasant odor. Brushing and flossing regularly removes trapped food before it decays.

Brushing also removes plaque, a sticky substance that builds up on your teeth and causes odor. Plaque buildup can cause cavities and periodontal disease. Bad breath also can be a problem if you wear dentures and do not clean them every night.

Strong Foods and Beverages

When you eat onions, garlic, or other foods with strong odors, oils from the foods are absorbed into your stomach during digestion. These oils pass into your bloodstream, travel to your lungs, and are noticeable in your breath for up to 72 hours. Drinking beverages with strong odors, such as coffee, can contribute to bad breath.

Smoking

Smoking cigarettes or cigars causes a bad odor and dries out your mouth, which can make odor even worse.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can occur if you do not make enough saliva. Saliva helps keep your mouth clean and reduces odor. Dry mouth can be a problem if you have a salivary gland condition, sleep with your mouth open, or take certain medications, including those that treat high blood pressure and urinary conditions.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease happens when plaque is not removed promptly from teeth. Over time, plaque hardens into tartar. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and can irritate your gums. Tartar may cause pockets, or small openings, to form in the area between the teeth and gums. Food, bacteria, and dental plaque can collect in the pockets, causing a strong odor.

Sinus, Mouth, or Throat Conditions

Bad breath odor may develop if you have a sinus infection, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, or an infection in your upper or lower respiratory system. Tonsil stones also can be a source of bad breath because bacteria tend to collect on the stones.

Diseases

Unusual breath odor can be a symptom of some diseases, including kidney disease, diabetes, and gastroesophageal reflex disorder (GERD). If you have kidney or liver failure or diabetes, your breath may smell fishy. When your diabetes is not under control, your breath may smell fruity.

What Are the Symptoms of Breath Odor?

In addition to a bad smell in your mouth, you may also notice a bad taste in your mouth. If the taste is due to an underlying condition and is not because of trapped food particles, it may not disappear even if you brush your teeth and use mouthwash.

How Is Breath Odor Diagnosed?

Your dentist will smell your breath and ask you questions about your problem. He or she may recommend you schedule an appointment for the morning, before you brush your teeth. You can expect to answer questions regarding:

  • how often you brush and floss
  • the kinds of food you eat
  • allergies or diseases
  • how often you snore
  • medications you take
  • when the problem started.

Your doctor will smell your mouth, nose, and tongue to diagnose your problem and will try to determine the source of the odor. If the odor does not seem to be coming from your teeth or mouth, your dentist will recommend that you visit your family doctor to rule out an underlying disease or condition.

How Is Breath Odor Treated?

If breath odor is caused by a plaque buildup, a dental cleaning may solve the problem. A deep dental cleaning may be needed if you have periodontal disease. Treating underlying medical problems, such as a sinus infection or kidney disease, can also help improve breath odor. Your dentist may recommend that you use an artificial saliva product and drink plenty of water if dry mouth causes your odor problem.

How Can I Prevent Breath Odor?

  • Brush your teeth two or more times each day.
  • Floss daily.
  • Use antimicrobial mouthwash to kill bacteria.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria.
  • Drink water to wash away food particles and keep your mouth moist.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Clean dentures, mouth guards, and retainers daily.
  • Replace your old toothbrush with a new one every three months.
  • Schedule a dental cleaning and examination every six months.

Article Sources:

Read More

See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.

1

Gum Disease (Gingivitis)

A severe case of gingivitis is marked by swollen, bleeding gums and swollen lymph nodes around the jaw, and neck.

Read more »

2

Tooth Decay

Cavities are holes that form in the teeth due to decay. They are a common yet highly preventable dental problem. Cavities are caused when bacteria, acids, foods, and other substances turn into plaque. If the plaque i...

Read more »

3

Enlarged Adenoids

Adenoids are small tissues located at the back of the throat. They are similar to the tonsils, and located right above them. Both adenoids and tonsils are part of the immune system. Adenoids are present at birth, an...

Read more »

4

Pharyngitis

Pharyngitis is inflammation of the pharynx (the back of the throat). This can cause soreness, scratchiness, and difficulty swallowing. Most cases occur during colder months when the humidity is low.

Read more »

5

Sinus Infections (Sinusitis)

A sinus infection causes the sinuses and nasal passages to become inflamed. Facial swelling is a common sign of this type of infection.

Read more »

6

Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is a condition in which the bronchial tubes of the lungs are permanently damaged and enlarged, which causes infections and blockages in the airways, and gives the skin a blue appearance.

Read more »

7

Alcoholism

Alcoholism is also known as alcohol dependence. It occurs when you drink so much over time that your body becomes dependent on or addicted to alcohol. When this happens, alcohol use becomes the most important thing i...

Read more »

8

Foreign Body in the Nose

Children are naturally inquisitive and often wonder how things work. Usually, they display this curiosity by asking questions, or by exploring the world around them. One of the dangers that can occur as a result of thi...

Read more »

9

Kidney Failure

Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys lose the ability to sufficiently filter waste from the blood. Many factors can interfere with kidney health and function, such as toxic exposure to environmental pollutants an...

Read more »

10

Getting a Handle on Aspiration Pneumonia

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Aspiration pneumonia is an inflammation of your lungs and bronchial tubes that happens after foreign matter is inhaled. Symptoms include chest pain, wheezing, and blue discoloration of the skin.

Read more »

11

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) causes destruction of the kidneys. It is progressive and irreversible.Your kidneys are an essential part of your body. They have a number of functions: help maintain the balance of mineral...

Read more »

12

Intestinal Obstruction

Intestinal obstruction occurs when there is a blockage of your small or large intestine. The blockage prevents the passage of fluid or digested food. The blockage may be partial or total.There are many potential cause...

Read more »

13

Stomach Cancer (Gastric Adenocarcinoma)

Gastric cancer, also known as gastric adenocarcinoma, is a cancer that forms inside of the stomach. It is the most common type of stomach cancer worldwide, and most commonly affects men over the age of 40.

Read more »

14

Absence of Gamma Globulin in Blood

Agammaglobulinemia (AGMX) is an inherited immune system disorder. Passed from parent to child, it is also known as Bruton's agammaglobulinemia, congenital agammaglobulinemia, and X-linked agammaglobulinemia. AGMX wa...

Read more »

15

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a condition that occurs when saliva glands in the mouth don't work properly, causing a parched feeling in the mouth. Some possible causes are dehydration, pain relievers, stress, appetit...

Read more »

16

Diabetes Overview

Learn about diabetes symptoms, causes & treatments.

Read more »

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
  • Page 1 of 1
Advertisement
Are you experiencing other symptoms?

I'm experiencing:

Choose from list of symptoms:

Advertisement