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Fedoricw, Massoumi, & Kolbig

Causes of Bad Breath

Causes of Bad Breath

Did you know that the human sense of smell is closely linked to memory? Unfortunately, this can mean that if you have bad breath, people are more likely to remember the smell of your breath over anything else about you. Many people have bad breath every once in a while and the American Dental Association estimates that around 50% of Americans have experienced bad breath at some point during their lifetime. Still, nobody likes having bad breath if they can help it. Luckily, there are some things that you can do to make your breath smell more pleasant. 

The first step to making your breath smell better is to determine the reason why you have bad breath. This is because the root of your breath problem may be coming from your tongue, gums, or teeth, or it may even be the result of certain health conditions. Knowing the cause of your bad breath, as well as where the smell is coming from, will help you to find a way to eliminate it. Here are some common causes of bad breath to look for: 

Poor Oral Hygiene

One possible cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene, meaning that you do not brush and/or floss enough or properly. This can allow excess bacteria to remain on the teeth, which can cause foul odors to form. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time and floss daily. If you are following these guidelines, but still have bad breath, you may want to speak with your dentist to make sure you are using the proper brushing and flossing techniques. You will also need to stay caught up on your semiannual dental cleanings so your dentist can remove excess plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth. 

Gum Disease

When excess plaque and bacteria accumulate along the gum line, this causes the gums to become inflamed in an infection known as gum disease. Depending on the severity, the gums may even start to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that bacteria will begin to live in. Just like with bacteria on your teeth, this will produce an odor. Generally speaking, the more bacteria present, the stronger the odor. If you have red, swollen gums that bleed easily, then you will want to visit your dentist for a periodontal cleaning to remove the excess bacteria from along your gums. This should also help to improve the smell of your breath. 

Dry Mouth

Your mouth is naturally able to clean itself through the use of saliva. However, there is a condition known as dry mouth, where the body is unable to produce enough saliva. When this happens, the mouth’s ability to clean itself is significantly impaired. This unfortunately means that bacteria can form and remain inside the mouth more than usual. Luckily, dry mouth can be combated by keeping your mouth as wet as possible. This can be accomplished by drinking water frequently, sucking on sugarless candies, and chewing gum. Stimulating saliva production is the best way to treat bad breath caused by dry mouth. 


Smoking causes bad breath due to the smell of smoke and the other ingredients found in cigarettes. Not only does this scent linger on your breath, but smoking also causes dry mouth, which compounds the problem and can make things worse. 


Certain foods and beverages that have a strong smell or taste can also contribute to temporary bad breath. Foods like onion and garlic usually stay in the system for about 72 hours and can affect the smell of your breath during that time. Coffee is another example of a beverage that has a strong flavor and releases a strong smell. To combat bad breath caused by diet, it is recommended to rinse your mouth with water, brush your teeth, or have a mint after eating or drinking things with a strong smell. 

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can also cause bad breath. Medical conditions that cause temporary bad breath can include infections that affect the tonsils, sinuses, nasal passages, bronchial tubes, or upper/lower respiratory system. Medical conditions that can cause chronic bad breath include kidney disease, diabetes, or gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD). In these cases, the best way to treat bad breath is to manage the condition with proper treatment. 

Dr. Roman Fedorciw has been in private practice in Cromwell since 1991. He is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the American Dental Association. He is also a member of the Connecticut Dental Association and Middlesex County Dental Association. Dr. Fedorciw has been acknowledged by his peers as one of the “Top Dentists” in Hartford County by Hartford Magazine and in the state of Connecticut by Connecticut Magazine.