Patient question: “What causes bad breath?”

Q. What causes bad breath?

A. 90% Ninety percent of bad breath cases are caused by oral bacteria in the mouth—something that’s easily treatable.

Bad breath (halitosis) may be caused by poor oral hygiene habits and others might be a sign of more serious health problems. Here are a few causes:

• Eating foods with strong odors like onions or garlic—the odor is actually given off by your lungs after you digest the food
• Not brushing or flossing regularly—can cause bacteria to grow on your teeth, gums or tongue
• Smoking or chewing tobacco
• Gum disease
• Dry mouth—this includes the common “morning breath”— when you don’t have enough saliva to neutralize acids, bacteria can flourish
• Diseases and illnesses such as respiratory tract infections, allergies, chronic sinus infections and diabetes

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