Common Reasons for Bad Breath

bad breath

To comprehend how common bad breath problem or halitosis is among people – you need only to glance through the counters in the stores to see the wide variety of mouth refreshing products like mouthwashes, gums, and mints that are on sale. Statistics show one in four people suffer from bad breath. You also need to understand that the above products only give temporary relief to the problem.

Bad breath can be defined as foul breath which is generally caused by food breakdown and improper dental hygiene. This is seen not just among adults, children are also known to suffer from bad breath. This causes severe anxiety in people and not to mention embarrassing situations. It causes people to shy away from gatherings and can also affect their professional and social life.

Now let us examine some common reasons for bad breath.

Poor Oral Hygiene

One of the commonest reasons for bad breath seen is poor oral hygiene. Proper care and attention are not given to oral hygiene. The need to brush your teeth twice and daily floss is not followed by many. If hygiene is not maintained, then food particles would get stuck in the teeth and if they are not removed, it can result in plaque formation.

Bacteria can grow rapidly in the areas around the teeth, gums and even tongue. It is important that after every meal, food debris is washed out from your mouth. These bacteria not only lead to teeth decay they can also produce bad breath. It is vital that proper cleaning is not focused only on teeth, tongue should also be cleaned regularly. Being aware of one’s own habits, introducing good oral hygiene habits are all important to maintain good oral health.

Food and Drinks Consumed

The type of food one consumes also affects breath. The breakdown of food starts from the mouth. Food mixes with the saliva and the initial process of digestion start in the mouth- this also releases smell associated with the food that is consumed. Garlic or onion, for example, has a very strong odour and so do some spices. When you consume these type of food, your breath will be affected.

Drinks such as coffee and alcohol are also known to affect breath. These drinks affect negatively on the saliva released in the mouth. The reduced amount of saliva also leads to less ‘washing out’ action in the mouth and the strong smell of these drinks lingers in one’s breath. Washing out or cleaning mouth by consuming water is one of the simplest ways you can adopt for better oral health.

Smoking and Tobacco Chewing

Smoking is also one of the reasons for bad breath. When a person smokes, particles of the smoke are left on the throat and lung and also on the sides of the cheek, tongue, and teeth. These particles can linger in the lung for hours and cause the bad breath associated with smokers. Smoking affects the work of the salivary glands- the amount of saliva in the mouth gets reduced due to smoking and the smoker experiences what is known as dry mouth. This also contributes to halitosis.

Chewing tobacco also produces a similar effect. Tobacco particles, when mixed with saliva in the mouth, give out an odour. As they continue to stay in the mouth, the micro-organisms in the mouth will work on the tobacco particles, this will produce a pungent odour from the mouth. One must also be reminded that it is not just these aspects of smoking and tobacco chewing that causes bad breath, continued use of these can lead to other dental problems like gum diseases, cancer, infection in the teeth – these will also contribute to halitosis.


Persistent bad breath might not be related to just poor oral hygiene, it can also be due to underlying gum disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque formation in the teeth. Bacteria will work on the food debris in the mouth and generate foul smell and cause tooth decay as well. Some people suffer from dry mouth disorder- the condition where saliva generation is less and as a result, the mouth feels dry.

Saliva works as a cleansing agent in the mouth and defuses the effect of acids which are produced in plaque formation by the bacteria. Dead cells and food debris are also washed away. When they stay in the mouth, they lead to bad breath. Other diseases like sinus infection, diabetes, liver or kidney problems are also known to cause bad breath. Dry mouth is experienced by everyone while sleeping, commonly known as ‘morning breath’.


People embark on different diets to maintain their weight. Following the diets, which are fat burning, releases ketones- these are released through urine and also through breath. These ketones cause bad breath in people. When a person follows diets, carbohydrates are cut down and since the body doesn’t get energy from carbohydrates, other sources of energy are utilised and this leads to ‘bad breath’ during dieting.

Another reason for halitosis during dieting is when people follow a protein rich diet. This would produce a larger amount of ammonia in the diet and bad breath effects. It has also been mentioned that this condition of bad breath during dieting does not continue, it disappears after some weeks or months. Some people use chewing gums to ward off the effect of bad breath during diets or use mouthwash to get rid of the odour.


Medicines cause bad breath in people. Many people are not aware of this fact, bad breath is caused as a side effect when people take continued medicines. Some of the medicines prescribed for cholesterol, medicines aiding digestion and acid reflux and some anti-depressants are known to cause dry mouth in people. This then leads to halitosis. Medicines for allergies are also known to cause dry mouth. Drinking plenty of water, making sure your mouth stays hydrated, using chewing gums to stimulate saliva production are some of the ways one can work against the dry mouth condition.