Bad Breath: The Causes And Solutions

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Nothing can screw up a date, a business lunch or just a mundane social interaction like bad breath. It’s unpleasant enough to experience it from someone else, but sharing your own stinky breath with someone else is one of the worst faux pas you can commit.


But what causes bad breath, and how do you get rid of it? Most people will simply say to take a breath mint and be done with it, but for many people, it’s not that easy. Chronic bad breath, or halitosis, can cause social problems for those who just can’t seem to rid of it. It can also be a sign of more serious health problems. In this article, we’ll explore what causes halitosis and similar conditions and how you can rid yourself of bad breath.


What Are the Primary Causes of Bad Breath?

This should be obvious. If you ate a big sandwich with sausage and peppers, you’re going to pay the price for it later. Even foods that are very healthy, like garlic, can produce bad breath. Other foods that can cause bad breath include onions and coffee.

  • Dental hygiene (or lack thereof). If you do not brush your teeth and floss regularly, particles of food can become lodged between your teeth and in your gums. Over time, they will begin to decay and form plaque, a clear film of bacteria on your teeth, and produce a bad odor. Plaque also contributes to cavities. Bacteria can also accumulate on the tongue and cause bad breath.
  • Infections and diseases of the mouth, nose and throat. Foul breath isn’t necessarily a disease per se, but it can be a symptom of a variety of illnesses. Chronic inflammation in the nasal passages, sinuses and throat can cause postnasal drip, which can contribute to bad breath. Gastroesophageal reflux disease can also be a factor.
  • Other diseases and deficiencies. Certain types of cancers and metabolic disorders can sometimes give the breath an unpleasant aroma. Bad breath can also sometimes be caused by zinc deficiency, as well simply not getting enough water.
  • Another more serious condition which can cause halitosis is diabetic ketoacidosis. In this condition, a person with diabetes is unable to produce enough insulin to break down sugars into energy, so the body begins burning fat instead. This process produces excessive amounts of blood acids called ketones, which can be poisonous at high levels. A side effect of this is breath with a fruity scent. Diabetic ketoacidosis is more common in people with type 1 diabetes, but it can sometimes occur in individuals with type 2 as well.
  • Use of tobacco products. It is common knowledge that cigarette smokers are more prone to bad breath, but almost any kind of tobacco product can cause it as well. Cigars, pipes and hookahs, as well as chewing tobacco and dip, are major offenders.

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  • Howard

    A few years back I had really bad breath. I didn’t smoke, I brushed my teeth twice daily, visited my dentist every six months, and ate tons of peppermint candies, all to no good end. Then I visited a friend in another state who was a new to vegetarianism. Since I was visiting for a month, I decided to eat what they were eating, and my bad breath disappeared. Today, I eat cheese, fish, and occasionally some free range chicken, and still no bad breath. About 3 years ago I did eat half of a roast beef sandwich, and not only did I have an ache running through my intestine for the next day and a half, my bad breath came back immediately, and left just as quickly the next day. Apparently the beef putrefies (rots) in your stomach, and if the sphincter muscle between your stomach and esophagus leaks a little, “hello bad breath!”