What Causes Bad Breath?

Craig Goldin DDS Mar 22, 2012

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, has affected all patients at one point or another. For some of us, a thorough cleaning of the teeth and tongue eliminates embarrassing odors of the mouth; for others, bad breath could be a more deeply rooted problem. Knowing the causes of bad breath can help pinpoint what steps are necessary to get rid of the odor. Here at the Cosmetic Dentistry Institute, we have incredibly talented dentists and a friendly staff that caters to each individual's needs. We strive to provide our patients with the information and tools they need to maintain good oral hygiene. In this blog post, the staff at our Troy cosmetic dentistry practice reviews the causes of bad breath, and provides you with tips to help prevent bad breath.  

Causes of Bad Breath  

Patients may suffer from bad breath for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes of bad breath include:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Gum disease
  • Diet
  • Health conditions/disease
  • Smoking
  • Dry mouth

Dental Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of bad breath. Brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and scheduling cleanings and examinations with your dentist every six months is imperative in preventing and/or resolving bad breath. In addition to bad breath, prolonged periods of poor oral hygiene can lead to more serious dental issues, including cavities and gum disease.

Gum Disease

When oral hygiene is lacking, patients may develop gum disease. Gingivitis and periodontitis can cause severe halitosis. Bad breath is a symptom of gum disease and may be an indicator that treatment is necessary.


A person’s diet directly impacts the smell of their breath. Certain foods can give off distinct and strong odors; these include garlic, onions, curries, fish, alcohol, and coffee. If these are prominent foods in your diet, eliminating them can reduce the presences of strong mouth odors.

Health Conditions/Disease

Certain health conditions are related to halitosis. Most of the conditions that cause bad breath affect the stomach, throat, and esophagus:

  • GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux disease)
  • Dry mouth
  • Diabetes
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Throat conditions/infections
  • Nasal/sinus infections


Not only does smoking increase the risk of oral diseases, throat cancers, gum disease, and tooth loss, but is it also a cause of bad breath. Any tobacco use should be discontinued to prevent bad breath.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, or insufficient saliva production, can result in bad breath. Saliva plays an important role in breaking down bacteria and removing particles in your mouth that can cause foul odors.


  • There are several treatment options to reduce or eliminate bad breath:
  • Routine professional cleanings
  • Thorough brushing of the teeth and tongue
  • Flossing daily
  • Treatment of dental infections such as gum disease or cavities
  • Drinking more water
  • Chewing sugarless gum

The Troy porcelain veneers dentists at our practice have experience treating bad breath and a range of other dental problems. To schedule your next dental appointment, contact the Cosmetic Dentistry Institute today.

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Troy, MI 48083

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