Top 10 Reasons Why You Have Bad Breath

By Tiffany Meier

Do you constantly feel insecure about bad breath? You’re not alone.

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, up to 80 million people suffer from halitosis or chronic bad breath.

Here are the top 10 reasons why.

1.   Not brushing and flossing regularly

If food particles remain trapped in your mouth—between your teeth and under your gums—bacteria thrive. As bacteria break down the trapped particles, it leaves behind a gas that is offensive. An easy fix is to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and don’t forget your tongue and cheeks; studies show that complete oral care can reduce the bacteria. Mouthwashes and gum only temporarily cover up the smell, as they don’t reduce the bacteria, dentists warn.

2.   Consuming strong-smelling food

Foods that can easily cause bad breath include coffee, alcohol, garlic, onions, fish, eggs, and dairy. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the allyl methyl sulfide in coffee, onions, and garlic can stay in your bloodstream and be expelled through your mouth up to 72 hours after consumption. Ways to fight it include consuming lemons, parsley, apples, broccoli, spinach, and also ginger that stimulate saliva production. Drinking water helps too.

3.   Eating a lot of sweets

Almost everybody loves sweets and you know who else also loves sugary foods? Bacteria. Dentists say the worst culprits are sticky candies such as gummies and caramels. The best? Plain dark chocolate.

4.  A low carb diet

Eating a lot of protein and low carbs force the body into ketosis—the body begins to burn fat cells for energy. The process creates waste products called ketones. Too many aren’t good, so the body expels them however it can. To help fight the odor from ketones, try drinking more water and using sugar-free mints.

5.  Breathing through your mouth

Saliva production decreases at night, which is why many of us wake up with bad breath, even after diligent brushing and flossing. Mouth breathing, or snoring, further dries out the mouth. Fix this by drinking lots of water and keeping up your dental hygiene both morning and night.

6. Medications might be to blame

Hundreds of medications, including over-the-counter ones, can dry out your mouth. Check the drug’s side effects and see if dry mouth included. If so, talk to your doctor about switching to a medication that doesn’t reduce saliva.

7. A stuffy nose or allergies

A stuffy nose means breathing through your mouth, which drys it out and causes bad breath. Dentists recommend scraping the back of your tongue with a specially designed scraper and rinsing with a mouthwash containing chlorine dioxide.

8. Smoking or chewing tobacco

Smoking and breathing in all hot fumes dull your senses, diminishing your ability to smell and taste. Hot air will also dry out your mouth. The loss of saliva combined with tobacco odor creates the infamous “smoker’s breath.” The solution? You already know …

9. Drinking alcohol

Alcohol also dries out the mouth. Not to mention that it contains sugar, which bacteria love. Fight back with lots of water, sugar-free gum, as both stimulate saliva production. Brush and floss as well.

10. An underlying medical condition

Bad breath can be an early sign of an underlying illness that may not have any outward signs. Certain chronic diseases that restrict liver or kidney function can also cause bad breath. Other chronic conditions that cause bad breath include diabetes and acid reflux diseases.