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5 Surprising Causes of Bad Breath and How to Combat Them
Jul 10 2024

Tired of dealing with bad breath no matter how well you brush? There might be surprising reasons causing it. Let’s reveal five unexpected causes and ways to fix them. Get ready to say goodbye to bad breath and hello to fresh, long-lasting breath!

Surprising cause #1: Poor oral hygiene

While poor oral hygiene is a common cause of bad breath, the way you brush and floss matters too. Inadequate brushing can leave food and bacteria in hard-to-reach spots, leading to smelly sulfur compounds. Not cleaning your tongue can also build up bacteria. To tackle these issues, brush thoroughly for two minutes, twice daily, and floss daily. Clean your tongue gently to remove bacteria. Regular dental check-ups are important for maintaining fresh breath and overall oral health.

Surprising cause #2: Dry mouth

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is another surprising cause of bad breath. When salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist, it affects oral health. Saliva neutralizes acids, cleans away food particles, and controls bacteria growth. Without enough saliva, these protective actions are reduced, allowing bacteria to cause bad odors. Dry mouth can be due to medications, medical conditions, aging, dehydration, smoking, or mouth breathing. If you experience ongoing dryness and bad breath, it’s important to address the underlying cause promptly.

Surprising cause #3: Sinus and respiratory infections

Sinus and respiratory infections can unexpectedly cause bad breath. When nasal passages and sinuses are inflamed or congested, mucus and bacteria can build up and drain into the throat, leading to halitosis. Conditions like sinusitis, rhinitis, and even common colds increase mucus production and post-nasal drip, providing a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria. Inflammation in the nasal and sinus cavities from these infections can worsen the issue. If persistent bad breath persists after ruling out other causes, consider if a sinus or respiratory infection might be to blame. Seeking medical help to treat the infection can help resolve the bad breath.

Surprising cause #4: Certain medications

Another surprising cause of bad breath often overlooked is the side effects of certain medications. Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs can affect your breath, either directly or indirectly. For instance, medications that cause dry mouth, like antihistamines, decongestants, and some antidepressants, can lead to halitosis by reducing saliva production. Without enough saliva, bacteria thrive and produce smelly sulfur compounds. Additionally, certain antibiotics can disrupt the mouth’s bacteria balance, allowing odor-causing microorganisms to multiply. Medications used for acid reflux, such as proton pump inhibitors, may also contribute to bad breath by allowing stomach acid to reflux into the mouth and esophagus.

Surprising cause #5: Digestive issues

Digestive issues can surprisingly contribute to bad breath. Conditions like acid reflux, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and bacterial overgrowth in the gut can cause halitosis. When stomach acid or undigested food reflux into the esophagus and mouth, it creates an environment where odor-causing bacteria thrive, leading to sour or acidic breath. Disorders such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can also produce sulfur compounds that contribute to bad breath. If oral hygiene and lifestyle changes haven’t resolved persistent bad breath, consider if an underlying digestive issue could be the cause. Seeking medical help to address the root of the digestive problem can help alleviate bad breath.

Tips for combating bad breath

Now that you know the surprising causes of bad breath, let’s explore effective ways to combat it. Here are some tips to help you freshen your breath and feel more confident:

  1. Maintain good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth twice daily for at least two minutes, floss every day, and use a tongue scraper to clean your tongue and remove bacteria.
  2. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth moist and encourage saliva production, which helps wash away food particles and neutralize acids.
  3. Use sugar-free gum or lozenges: Chewing gum or sucking on lozenges without sugar can boost saliva flow and neutralize odor-causing compounds in your mouth.
  4. Avoid odor-causing foods and drinks: Limit foods like garlic and onions, and beverages like coffee and alcohol, which can leave lasting odors in your mouth.
  5. Visit your dentist regularly: Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can identify and address any oral health issues that might be causing bad breath.


Bad breath can greatly affect your confidence and interactions with others. While poor oral hygiene is commonly blamed, other surprising factors include dry mouth, sinus infections, certain medications, and digestive issues. Understanding these causes and taking a comprehensive approach can help you regain control of your breath and confidence. By tackling these issues, you can feel more comfortable and confident in social and professional settings. Book an appointment today by contacting A&B Dental Clinic at 604-877-0664.

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