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Symptoms and Causes of Bad Breath

bad breath
Whether you’re dealing with temporary bad breath or a chronic condition like halitosis, chances are you’d like to dispense with the embarrassing odor that causes loved ones and strangers alike to keep you at arm’s length. The best way to do this is to understand why you have bad breath in the first place. Here are just a few things you should know in order to treat and prevent bad breath.


The main symptom of bad breath, obviously, is odor, but the true culprit is often a buildup of leftover food and bacterial growth. Luckily, the easy solution is proper oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and rinsing after every meal, as well as visiting your dentist for regular cleaning and check-up.


You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. Perhaps it would be more apt to say you smell like what you consume.

Strong odors from food, beverages, and tobacco products can linger in your mouth, even with proper oral hygiene. If your breath frequently offends, you might want to consider cutting back on the garlic or coffee, giving up tobacco, and drinking more water to flush away food and odors.

Poor Hygiene

When you don’t bathe regularly, your body is going to start smelling pretty bad, and the same basic principle applies to your mouth. Proper oral hygiene, including a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing, as well as regular dental visits, is the best way to keep your breath smelling fresh.

When you fail to practice proper oral hygiene, bacteria can proliferate in the mouth, forming plaque and tartar over time that lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and attendant odors.

Dry Mouth

Although the food you eat is probably the most common reason for intermittent bad breath, you may also find yourself dealing with temporary or chronic bad breath (halitosis) if you suffer from dry mouth. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including illness, medication, mouth breathing, smoking, and dehydration, just for example.

The symptom of this condition is insufficient saliva. Because saliva helps to rinse away leftover food and bacteria in the mouth, a limited supply can result in buildup of these odor-causing substances.


Any number of ailments may cause dry mouth and/or bad breath. Even a simple cold or flu could result in bad breath, as could infections and tooth decay. Conditions like acid reflux and diseases like cancer can also include bad breath as a symptom.