woman covering mouth

Top 10 Causes of Bad Breath and How to Prevent It

Are you worried about having bad breath? It’s a common fear, because it is difficult to tell when your own breath is less than fresh. Halitosis, or chronic bad breath, can be caused by many different factors. But there are ways to prevent it and correct it. 

Consider the top 10 causes of bad breath and learn what you can do to keep your breath fresh.


1. Poor dental hygiene.


If you aren’t brushing and flossing your teeth daily and going to the dentist regularly, you may have poor oral health. Tooth decay as a result of food and bacteria that builds up on the teeth makes for foul breath. Take better care of your teeth and you’ll improve your breath. 


2. Gum disease.


Another side effect of poor dental hygiene is gum disease. When the gums become infected, the bacteria responsible for the infection can cause bad breath. This bacteria builds up under the gum line where it is more difficult to remove. It may require a visit to the dentist or periodontist for gum treatment, after which, your breath should improve.


3. Dry mouth.


If you have chronic dry mouth due to medication or other factors it can cause bad breath. Saliva is responsible for controlling the amount of bacteria in your mouth. When you don’t have enough saliva to keep the bacteria at bay, they run amok and the result is foul smelling breath. Try to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or ask your dentist about medication that can help.


4. Digestive conditions.


If you have acid reflux, bowel issues, or other digestive conditions it can cause bad breath. Reflux causes the contents of your stomach to come up into your throat and sometimes even into your mouth, which does not have a positive effect on your breath. See your doctor about these conditions and make sure they are effectively managed to keep them from affecting your breath.


5. Eating strong-smelling foods.


Sometimes you may cause your own bad breath from eating strong foods like onions, garlic, and spicy foods. If you enjoy these foods and don’t wish to give them up, consider brushing your teeth, flossing, and using mouthwash after eating them, which may help some.


6. Drinking coffee.


Coffee is highly acidic and can give you a dry mouth from the caffeine, in addition to the strong smell of coffee on your breath. Altogether, this is not a good combination for your breath. Brush or chew gum after drinking coffee to freshen your breath.


7. Eating foods high in sugar.


Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth, which are the source of your bad breath. So eating a high sugar diet could be part of the problem. Try reducing the amount of sugar you consume or brush and floss your teeth after eating or drinking something containing sugar.


8. Following a low-carb diet.


Carbohydrates are a necessary part of a healthy diet. Reducing your intake of carbs is one thing, but eliminating them altogether can alter your body chemistry and metabolism which affects your breath. Also, if you’re eating more protein in place of carbs the digestion process produces sulfur gas that gives you bad breath. Try to eat a balanced diet as much as possible with normal daily amounts of carbs and protein.


9. Drinking alcohol.


Alcohol slows down saliva production, which we already know is a leading cause of bad breath. Drink in moderation and you should experience less of the effects.


10. Using tobacco.


Whether you smoke or chew tobacco, it does your breath no favors. In addition to the smell of smoke or tobacco on your breath, the habit leads to gum disease, which we already mentioned as a cause of bad breath.


Proper Oral Care is Your Best Defense Against Bad Breath


The best way to keep your breath fresh is to maintain good oral health. Part of that is practicing good oral hygiene at home, by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. A tongue scraper can also help to remove bacteria from your tongue that can cause bad breath. But equally important is staying on a regular schedule with your dental visits.

We recommend cleanings and oral exams every 6 months for optimal oral health. Cleanings remove tartar and plaque buildup on your teeth and examinations alert your dentist to any oral health issues you may have from cavities to gum disease. Preventive care visits are an important step in preventing bad breath.

Oakdale Dental Associates provides comprehensive dental services in Holyoke, MA and the surrounding area. Call (413) 536-1782 today to schedule a visit or request an appointment. We look forward to helping you achieve better oral health and fresher breath.