What causes bad breath? There are several factors that contribute to bad breath causes, but the primary cause of bad breath is a type of oral bacteria called anaerobic bacteria. While most studies and dentists conclude that 85 to 90 percent of bad breath comes from mouth bacteria, bad breath can also originate in other areas of your body, including your stomach, lungs and nasal cavity. Causes of bad breath include but are not limited to:
Poor Oral Hygiene -- Brushing your teeth and flossing are necessary to remove food and plaque from your oral cavity. When you skip out on your oral hygiene routine, food that remains on your teeth cause bacteria to multiply, coating your teeth, gums and tongue. These bacteria are the main cause of bad breath.
Diet -- Some stinky foods can last for days. Food undergoes a process where it is broken down and carried to your lungs via your bloodstream, then released in the form of gas as you exhale. Unfortunately, brushing won't remove the odor; you'll have to wait for the food to leave your system for fresher-smelling breath. Garlic and onion are common causes of bad breath.
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) -- You need saliva to wash away food particles and keep your mouth hydrated. A dry mouth promotes bacteria growth throughout the tongue, gums and cheeks, which is what causes bad breath. Dry mouth is common while you are sleeping, which is why some people wake up with "morning breath."
Tobacco -- Smoking dries out your mouth, not to mention that the smell of tobacco products are unpleasant to some people.
Alcohol -- Alcohol is also a drying agent, but it causes bad breath in another way. It directly enters your bloodstream and leaves via your lungs, which is why you may still smell like alcohol long after you have stopped drinking. That's how a breathalyzer test is able to determine blood alcohol levels - alcohol content is measured from your lungs, not your mouth!
Dental Problems -- Some dental problems may be apparent by your breath alone. Gum disease is a perfect example of a dental condition that causes bad breath. Periodontal disease causes your gums to pull away from teeth and form pockets, which is an excellent place for bacteria to hide. Bacteria found beneath the gum line can't be removed by brushing and flossing alone, leaving you with an overabundance of bacteria that often results in chronic bad breath. Cavities and impacted teeth are also common causes of bad breath.
Health Problems -- Surprisingly, infections not directly related to your mouth are also causes of bad breath. For example, sinus infections can produce post-nasal drip in the back of the throat, which causes bad breath. Other causes of bad breath include acid reflux disease, lung infections, diabetes, liver or kidney problems and some types of cancers.
Medications -- Certain medications have been linked to bad breath causes, including some antihistamines, antidepressants, decongestants, diet pills, psychiatric drugs and sleeping pills. If you're concerned that your prescription causes bad breath, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.