What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath, also known as halitosis can be an embarrassing thing while you are going out for a meeting or a party. It can also be a major problem when you are with your friends or loved ones. There is nothing to worry about your bad breath. It can easily be prevented with some home remedies or you can use the mints, gums, and mouthwashes available at your nearest grocery store.

Using any kind of product for bad breath can be for a short time because there can be plenty of reasons behind the bad breath. You can easily improve the bad breath problems with proper and consistent dental hygiene. In case, the home remedies and other techniques don’t work out for you, you can see your physician or dentist know the reason behind your bad breath and if it is getting worse day by day.

What Causes Bad Breath

Bad breath, halitosis, or fetor oris can be a significant embarrassment, worry, and anxiety. There are potential origins of bad breath that can be diagnosed and treated easily.

What Is Halitosis?

Having bad breath is a common problem that causes psychological distress among people. It is estimated that 1 in 4 people are having bad breath problems. Bad breath or Halitosis is the third most common reason that people seek dental care because of gum disease or tooth decay. You can simply try home remedies and lifestyle changes to cure bad breath. 

If you are a smoker, then dental hygiene and quitting smoking can remove the bad breath. If still the issue persists, you can seek your dentist. 

Causes of Bad Breath



If you are a smoker, then there are fair chances that you will be increasing the gum disease that causes bad breath. tobacco products cause their type of mouth odor that leads to bad breath at times when you have to whisper to someone. Also, chewing a tobacco-based product causes stained teeth and bad breath. Sometimes it reduces the ability to taste foods and it irritates your gums. 


After you are done eating food, the breakdown particles of food stuck in your teeth can cause odors in your mouth. Some foods like garlic and onion can cause bad breath. It is because they contain pungent oils. When you eat any of them, they are digested, and then breakdown products are carried to your lungs through blood. Hence, you will be having bad breath. 

Dry Mouth

Your mouth gets naturally cleaned up through your saliva. If your mouth is dry due to any reason or a specific disease such as xerostomia, there will be mouth odors. As a result, you will be having bad breath. Saliva moistens the mouth and neutralizes the acids produces by plaque. Also, it helps to wash away the dead cells that accumulate on the gums, cheeks, and tongue. 

If you are having a dry mouth, it means that your saliva is not working to decompose these cells and bacteria. Hence, you will be having bad breath. having a dry mouth is natural for some people because of salivary gland problems, medications, or even if you continue to breathe from your mouth. The morning breath is worst for those people who sleep with their open mouths. 

Dental Hygiene

Brushing and flossing ensure that the small food particles are removed from your mouth, otherwise, they will cause odor for bad breath. Plaque, a film of bacteria builds up if you are not brushing your teeth regularly. The plaque caused in your mouth causes inflammation between the gums and teeth is known as periodontitis. If cleaning of dentures is not regular then it will be a home for bacteria causing halitosis. 

Crash Diets

A low carbohydrate diet causes ketone breath. A ketogenic diet is having moderate proteins, low-carbs, and high-fat. These diets burn fat as their energy source. In the end, ketones are formed that cause a fruity acetone-like odor on the breath. Ketone breath is different from halitosis and gives your mouth and breath a metallic taste

Ketones generated in your body are harmless and are released from urination and exhalation. Acetone is one of the ingredients in nail polishes. If your breath starts smelling like nail polish, there are fair chances that you are having ketosis. 


Medications can also cause bad breath because they reduce the saliva in your mouth. A dry mouth or reduced saliva means you are having bad breath. Drugs or medications produce an odor when they break down and release the chemicals through your breath. Nitrates used to treat angina, tranquilizers such as phenothiazines, and chemotherapy chemicals also cause bad breath problems.

Also, if you are using supplements in large doses, there are fair chances that you will be having bad breath. 

Mouth, Nose, and Throat Conditions

If you are having a surgical wound such as gum disease, tooth removal, tooth decay, mouth sores, etc. you will be having bad breath. Also, the small stones forming tonsils are covered with bacteria that will cause bad breath. infections and chronic inflammation in the sinuses, nose, and throat can contribute to bad breath. 

Foreign Body

Another reason for bad breath can be foreign bodies that are logged in the nasal cavity. It happens usually with children. The objects stuck in the nose because of any reason can also cause bad breath but it usually happens with children. 


Some diseases like liver failure, cancers, and metabolic diseases can cause halitosis. It is due to the mixing of chemicals a disease produces. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes bad breath because of regular reflux of stomach acids. Other diseases that cause bad breath are:

  • Postnasal drip 
  • Seasonal allergies 
  • Respiratory tract infections (Bronchitis or Pneumonia) 
  • Chronic Acid Reflux. 
  • Diabetes 
  • Long-term sinus infections (chronic)
  • Chronic Lung Infection
  • Liver or Kidney Problems 

Rare Causes of Bad Breath


Diabetic patients with low levels of insulin can also have bad breath. it happens because their bodies are no longer using the sugar, instead, they use fat stores. Breaking down fats means your body is producing ketones. Ketones can be poisonous when they are found in large amounts. Ketoacidosis is a serious and life-threatening disease or condition. 

Bowel Obstruction

Bowel Obstruction can cause severe bad breath. Your breath can smell like feces. It happens when you have a prolonged period of vomiting with bowel obstruction. Bowel obstruction is a functional or mechanical obstruction of the intestines. It prevents the movement of food or products for digestion. In bowel obstruction, either a small or large bowel can be affected. 

The signs and symptoms of bowel obstruction are bloating, vomiting, abdominal pain, and not passing gas. All these signs mean that you might end up having bad breath because of this disease


Bronchiectasis disease happens due to the permanent enlargement of parts of the airways of the lungs. The chronic cough with mucus production is the main symptom of bronchiectasis. When there is a build-up of mucus, you will have bad breath. 


In some situations, bacteria cause ulcers in your stomach. Ulcers can be a source of bad breath. A bacterium known as Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) is a cause of ulcers in the stomach. H. pylori alone is not a cause of bad breath but people with H. pylori and Prevotella intermedia (Periodontal bacteria) cause bad breath. 

Halitosis – Dental Care and Bad Breath

The bad breath or specific odor can be due to many reasons and it can cause lot more problems. Bad breath thrashes your confidence. The different causes of bad breath mean that you are suffering from some specific disease or you are not following proper and hygienic dental care. To avoid halitosis, you need to work on lifestyle patterns!