When you are having a conversation with someone, bad breath is something that is almost impossible to ignore. Even the best of conversations can quickly be tainted by the sour smell of one’s bad breath. Yet, bad breath is highly common and the American Dental Association notes that around 50% of Americans have experienced bad breath themselves at one point or another. 

Despite how common bad breath is, many people try to avoid having bad breath because of the social problems that come with it. However, in order to avoid having bad breath, you must first know what is causing your bad breath. By figuring out the cause of your bad breath, you will then be able to employ the necessary techniques to eliminate it. Although there are many different causes of bad breath, here are some of the most common: 


As you probably know, certain foods and beverages have different smells and tastes. Although these smells and tastes help you to determine which foods and beverages you prefer to eat and drink, they can also affect the way your breath smells after consuming them. This is because everything you eat and drink leaves particles in your mouth and is then absorbed into your body. For example, onions and garlic are absorbed by the stomach and pass through the respiratory system, which can change the way your breath smells for up to 72 hours.

Poor Oral Hygiene

male shown with poor oral hygiene

Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day are extremely important to remove excess bacteria and prevent dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease. However, if you are not brushing or flossing enough, or if you are not using the right brushing and flossing techniques, then you may be leaving bacteria behind. When bacteria accumulate in your mouth, they produce the odor known as bad breath. As a general rule, the more bacteria, the stronger the smell. If you have large accumulations of plaque and tartar, you should visit your dentist for a dental cleaning. 

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a condition characterized by an inability to produce adequate amounts of saliva. Saliva is important because it helps to keep your mouth clean and manage bacteria levels. However, when there is not enough saliva present, bacteria can accumulate faster and easier. As bacteria populations grow, this results in bad breath. To treat bad breath caused by dry mouth, it is recommended to encourage saliva production. This can be accomplished by chewing gum, sucking on sugarless candies, and frequently drinking water to keep your mouth moist. 

Certain Medical Conditions

woman with GERD clutching her esophagus

Bad breath can also occur due to certain medical conditions. Infections of the nasal passages, bronchial tubes, tonsils, or upper/lower respiratory system are generally accompanied by bad breath that will resolve itself once the condition is treated. Chronic health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) have also been known to cause chronic cases of bad breath. When bad breath is due to medical conditions, you will first need to seek treatment for the condition. 

Dr. Edward Formica has been practicing Dentistry in Hemet since he graduated from UCLA in 1990.  He is a member of Tri-County Dental Society, American Dental Association, California Dental Association, Hemet/San Jacinto Exchange Club, Healthy Valley Foundation, Valley Trails Alliance and the Western Science Board.  

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