Bad or Changed Breath - Topic Overview
When is bad breath most likely to occur?
Everybody has bad breath from time to time, especially first thing in the morning. You also may have bad breath when you are hungry, when you are dieting, or after eating foods with a strong odor, such as garlic, onions, or pastrami.
What causes bad breath?
Many things can cause bad breath. A major cause is decreased saliva. Saliva has a cleaning action that helps reduce or eliminate bad breath. When saliva decreases, bacteria can grow, causing bad breath.
Bad breath caused by a decrease in saliva may be especially noticeable:
- In the morning. The flow of saliva almost stops during sleep. The reduced cleaning action of the saliva allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
- When you are hungry. Bad breath is more common in people who miss meals or are dieting. Chewing food increases saliva in the mouth. When you are not eating, saliva decreases and bacteria growth increases, causing bad breath.
- When you are dehydrated. When you become dehydrated, you do not produce as much saliva. The reduced cleaning action of the saliva allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
- From diseases that affect the salivary glands, such as Sjögren's syndrome or scleroderma.
- When you are taking certain medicines.
- After drinking alcohol beverages.
Other causes of bad or changed breath include:
- Eating foods with a strong odor, such as garlic, onions, or pastrami.
- Smoking or using smokeless (spit) tobacco, such as snuff or chewing tobacco.
- Bacteria and plaque buildup in the mouth from food caught between teeth, dentures, or dental appliances.
Mouth and throat problems that can cause mouth odor include:
Problems in other areas of the body that can cause mouth odor include: