Top 10 Causes of Bad Breath, and How to Prevent It

Top 10 Causes of Bad Breath, and How to Prevent It

Team General Dentistry, Uncategorized

You’re not alone if you have bad breath. According to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Blog, about 30% of people in the U.S. report experiencing some degree of bad breath for various reasons.

The following overview lists several of the most common causes of bad breath, along with tips for preventing this oral health issue. That said, there’s no substitute for seeing your dentist regularly. They can provide you with additional tips for avoiding bad breath while also addressing the root cause.

Ten of the most common causes of bad breath are:


Food that remains on your teeth or gums can attract bacteria. Bad breath often results from this process. Additionally, some foods, like garlic and onions, naturally release compounds into the bloodstream that may cause bad breath.


Dry mouth causes bad breath because saliva typically removes bacteria and particles that may otherwise cause unpleasant breath. If your body isn’t generating sufficient saliva, your breath likely won’t be as fresh as it could be.


Bad breath is a potential side effect of various medications. Sometimes, this happens indirectly, when a medication causes dry mouth. In other instances, it occurs because a medication releases certain compounds into the bloodstream, much like garlic and onions can.


Bad breath may result from medical conditions ranging from the common cold to certain forms of cancer. If you struggle with bad breath that doesn’t go away, see a doctor to investigate potential health causes.

Chronic Conditions

Both acute illnesses and chronic conditions may result in bad breath. For example, bad breath may be a sign of an underlying metabolic condition requiring medical attention.


You likely already know that smoking and using tobacco products in general is hazardous to your health. Additionally, using any tobacco product can cause bad breath.

Don’t assume vaping is a “safe” substitute! According to a study from researchers at New York University’s College of Dentistry, vaping may cause bad breath in the same way that smoking and using chewing tobacco can.

Dental Decay

Bad breath is a common symptom of dental decay. Thus, seeing a dentist if you have bad breath is a wise decision.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is another common oral health issue that causes bad breath. Similarly, various oral tissues might develop infections that can cause breath due to surgery, injury, etc.

Tonsil Stones

Your tonsils have natural crevices where food, bacteria, and other particles can accumulate into hard deposits known as tonsil stones. Tonsil stones often cause bad breath.

Improper Oral Hygiene

Brushing and flossing regularly removes food particles in your mouth. If you don’t prioritize your oral health, these particles will attract bacteria, causing your breath to smell unpleasant.

How to Prevent Bad Breath

Bad breath may have numerous potential causes. However, there’s also no shortage of ways to guard against bad breath. They include:

  • Seeing your dentist at least once every six months
  • Brushing for at least two minutes at least twice a day
  • Flossing at least once a day
  • Brushing your tongue
  • Staying hydrated
  • Not using tobacco products or vaping
  • Avoiding foods that may cause bad breath

If a medication you’re currently taking causes bad breath as a side effect, continue taking your medicine until you’ve had a chance to discuss the matter with the doctor who prescribed the medication.

Your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medication that doesn’t cause the same side effects. Or, they might offer tips for mitigating this side effect while continuing to take the medication you need.

Bad Breath? The Importance of Speaking With Your Dentist

Bad breath isn’t an oral health issue you need to live with. While following the advice here could help you guard against bad breath, seeing your dentist regularly is also key to ensuring your breath remains fresh.

Strongly consider scheduling a dental care appointment sooner rather than later if you’re currently struggling with bad breath. Unpleasant-smelling breath is often a sign of decay or a similar health problem. By seeing your dentist sooner rather than later, you may prevent a minor dental health issue from developing into something more significant. Freshening your breath is simply an added bonus!

Learn More About Bad Breath Prevention in Framingham, MA

At Metrowest Prosthodontics, serving the entire Metrowest region, we’re on hand to happily offer advice regarding how you may guard against and address bad breath. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at 508-620-6622 to request an appointment.