Skip to content

    Oral Care

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    What Causes Bad Breath?

    Come on, admit it. You’ve suffered from bad breath. Everyone has. It’s one of life’s most common annoyances. The good news is we can do something about it. But first, you need to know where it comes from.

    garlic bulbs

    The Beginnings of Bad Breath

    Bad breath starts with what you put in your mouth. Garlic for lunch? A late-morning latte? They may taste delicious, but consider yourself warned.

    Food you eat: Although garlic and coffee are two main offenders, other eats like onions and spicy food also can bring on bad breath. The odors of these foods enter your bloodstream and head right to your lungs, coming out with each exhale.

    Food "trapped" in your mouth: We're not talking about just a little spinach on your teeth. After a meal, any food particles that remain between your teeth, in your gums, or on your tongue can release their odor into your breath -- which gets worse as that food decays. And without good care of your teeth and gums, this stuck food can set off a cascade of events leading to gum disease.

    Tobacco: There are lots of reasons to avoid tobacco; bad breath is one on the list.

    Diets that lead to weight loss: We agree that it seems unjust, but when your body breaks down fat, the process releases chemicals that can give your breath an unpleasant smell.

    Dry mouth: Feeling parched? Saliva’s job is to serve as a continuous rinse cycle for your mouth. If you don’t have enough, your mouth loses its freshness fast. In fact, morning breath is worse for people who sleep with their mouths open. A dry mouth is a smelly mouth.

    Medications or health issues: Drugs that cause dry mouth can also contribute to bad breath. Health problems such as seasonal allergies, chronic sinusitis, bronchitis, respiratory infections, stomach problems, diabetes, and liver and kidney diseases factor in, too. Unrelenting bad breath may also be a sign of gum disease.

    How to Make Your Breath Better

    There are some quick and easy ways to banish bad breath. Just remember, the odor from what you eat can stick around until the food works its way completely out of your system -- up to 3 days later!

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

    Get the latest Oral Health newsletter delivered to your inbox!


    or
    Answer:
    Never
    (0)
    Good
    (1-3)
    Better
    (4-6)
    Best
    (7)

    You are currently

    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

    Start Over

    Step:  of 

    Today on WebMD

    close up of woman sticking out tongue
    Sores, discoloration, bumps and more.
    toothbrushes
    10 secrets to a brighter smile.
     
    Veneer smile
    Before and after.
    Woman checking her bite in mirror
    Why dental care is important.
     

    Woman dissatisfied with granola bar
    Slideshow
    woman with jaw pain
    Quiz
     
    eroded front teeth
    Slideshow
    brushing teeth
    Video
     

    Variety shades of tea
    Slideshow
    mouth and dental instruments
    Article
     
    Closeup of a happy young guy brushing his teeth
    Tool
    womans smile
    Video