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Causes of Bad Breath

by Contributing Writer
  • Overview

    Halitosis can be a serious social concern for people who are trying to make a good impression. Numerous products, from mints to mouthwashes to breath sprays, have been designed to mask unpleasant oral odors. Sometimes the causes are simple and nothing to worry about, but on occasion halitosis can indicate a medical condition that needs to be addressed.
  • Food

    Food and broken-down food particles--particularly products such as garlic, onions and certain types of spices--are common causes of bad breath.
  • Dry Mouth

    Saliva is the body's normal defense against the growth of bacteria in the mouth. However, sleeping with an open mouth, regularly breathing through the mouth and certain types of medication can reduce saliva, causing the odor-causing bacteria to grow and spread.
  • Dental Problems

    The Mayo Clinic website states that poor dental hygiene and periodontal disease can be a source of bad breath. Gingivitis, tooth decay and periodontitis can result if teeth and gums aren't properly cared for.
  • Ketoacidosis

    Ketoacidosis is a chemical reaction often caused by extreme fasting. It can cause a person's breath to smell fruity, and has also been linked to diabetes mellitus.
  • Kidney and Liver Failure

    Both kidney and liver failure have been reported to cause an individual's breath to have a fish-like odor. Alternately, a person with kidney failure could have breath that smells like urine.
  • Respiratory Infections

    According to Megan Johnson of USNews.com, various types of Respiratory Tract Infections (RTIs), including bronchitis and sinusitis, can also result in halitosis. "RTIs break down tissue, starting a flow of cells and mucus that feed bacteria that create foul odors," Johnson says.
  • Other Diseases

    Several other illnesses can result in severe halitosis, including lung abscesses, cancer, metabolic disorders and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

    References & Resources