Halitosis: 5 Common Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common issue that can be caused by a number of factors, most of which are easy to prevent or treat. Knowing what’s causing your bad breath allows you to treat it effectively. Here are five common causes of bad breath and what to do about them:

fighting bad breath


Bacteria are responsible for most cases of bad breath. Uncontrolled bacteria can lead to tartar build-up, gum disease, and even tooth loss, so it's important to combat bad bacteria with good dental hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice a day while paying close attention to the spaces between your teeth will help you keep bacteria in check.


Certain foods, such as garlic, onions, and strong spices, can cause bad breath that persists even after brushing your teeth. Flossing and gargling mouthwash can help, but if you’re concerned about your breath and you have a special event coming up, it may be best to avoid these foods the day before and day of.

Dry Mouth 

Dry mouth is another common cause of halitosis. Dehydration, breathing through the mouth, snoring, and some medications can all contribute to dry mouth. Sipping water at regular intervals, learning to breathe through the nose, and using anti-snoring devices helps relieve dry mouth in some people. Avoid mouthwashes with alcohol, as alcohol can dry out the mouth. If your dry mouth is especially bothersome, consider over-the-counter or prescription treatments.

Medical Conditions 

Some medical conditions can cause bad breath. Gastrointestinal problems, including acid indigestion, heartburn, and irritable bowel syndrome, can all cause bad breath. Diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease are all associated with characteristic breath and skin smells that some people may find unappealing. It’s worth noting that unexplained halitosis can be the first sign that something isn’t right with your health. If you have persistent bad breath and you’re not sure why, book an appointment with your healthcare provider.


Sinus, tonsil, tooth, and respiratory infections can all cause a bad smell in the mouth. Infection usually requires treatment, and it can be dangerous if it spreads, so see your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you think you might have an infection.


Halitosis can be caused by bacteria, food, dry mouth, and medical conditions, including infection. Smoking, alcohol, and certain medications can also cause bad breath. Good dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist are crucial for preventing bad breath.