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Causes of Bad Breath and How to Treat Them

Anny spends most of her time on a quest for self-improvement. She writes about her own experiences that she hopes can be useful to others.


Halitosis, or more commonly known as bad breath, can be a persistent pain and embarrassment in one’s life no matter how hard they try to get rid of it. It can cause detrimental effects to a person’s social life, confidence and both mental and physical health. As common as halitosis is in a population, it should not be dismissed as it may point to some underlying problems and illnesses present in your body.

Some indicators of bad breath include but are not limited to:

- Bad odor coming from mouth

- Bad odor in nose

- A bitter taste in mouth

- A white coating on tongue


Poor Oral Hygiene

If you are reading this article, there is a 90% chance that the cause of your bad breath is from your mouth. Bacteria build up can form plaques, which will eventually cause your bad breath. Visit your dentist at least twice a year, and be sure to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day and floss everyday. Flossing, although uncommon in some households, makes a world of difference in getting rid of pieces of food in places that your toothbrush cannot reach.

Visit your dentist to make sure you have no cavities, and ask for an X-ray to check for rotten roots and cavities under the gum. Especially if you also have tooth pain and gum recession, pay a quick visit to your nearest dentist. If you are wearing braces or dentures, make sure they are well cleaned before you put them on and after you take them of.

To step up it up, brush your tongue with your soft toothbrush to get rid of the bacteria buildup, which is seen as the white coating, but make sure you don’t brush too hard as to avoid ruining the papillae on your tongue.

Maintaining your oral microbiome is an integral part, and one can do so by using probiotic toothpastes that can increase the number of good bacteria in your mouth or take oral probiotics or lozenges.

Mouthwashes should not be used too often as they kill off both the good and the bad bacteria and can cause bad breath even more. If it is necessary to use one, opt for a non-alcohol mouthwash instead as this avoids your mouth from drying up.

Dry Mouth

Xerostomia is a condition of dry mouth. To improve your breath caused by xerostomia, make sure you fulfill the amount of fluid intake needed in a day.

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If you wake up with an extreme horrid breath, that might indicate that you breath with your mouth wide when you sleep, causing dry mouth. To treat this condition, underlying causes like blocked noses should be checked- which leads to the next point.

Rhinitis and Allergy

Rhinitis is a condition of a blocked nose, and it can be categorized as allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis. Please visit an ENT doctor to confirm whether you have an allergic or non-allergic rhinitis.

Allergies can cause rhinitis and post-nasal drip. Post nasal drip is the accumulation of mucus in your throat, and one can usually recognize it as a lump at the back of their throat when they try to swallow their saliva or food. The post nasal drip itself is not smelly, but once bacteria accumulates because of your body’s inability to remove excess mucus, it can lead to horrid breath.

Taking medications can help ease the symptoms of an allergy and rhinitis and these should be prescribed by your physician. Here are some ways to relieve your discomfort:

  • Drinking warm drinks
  • Avoid allergens. If you are allergic to dust mites, change your bed sheets frequently. If you are allergic to pollens, try avoiding going outside.
  • Use a humidifier
  • Exercise regularly. This helps strengthen your immune system.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables


Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a prevalent condition, especially those who drink a lot of caffeine. The action of regurgitation causes food from the stomach to rise back to your mouth, causing a sour taste due to the stomach acid. The smell is often worse after a few hours of eating. Look out for the following indicators:

  • Burping
  • Feeling of food moving back up your throat
  • A lump in your throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chess tightness (heartburn)

Visit a doctor to receive medications needed to treat GERD. To prevent the symptoms from worsening, these are the steps you can follow:

  • Avoid drinking coffee or tea
  • Eat in small bites
  • Eat in small meals
  • Sleep with your head and neck elevated


Gastrointestinal Causes

Gastrointestinal (or GI) causes are extremely rare, but possible. Here are some common ones:

  • H. Pylori infection: A stool or urea breath test should be done to test for H. Pylori presence. This infection can cause you to have extreme bad breath, as well as body odor. Some other symptoms include severe stomach pain at times, triggered by stress or nervousness. Antibiotics will be needed to eliminate H.Pylori from your guts
  • Stomach ulcers and cancers: Endoscopy is needed to diagnose this and the doctor will prescribe medications needed to treat the ulcers and cancers.
  • SIBO: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth is the imbalance of bacteria in your intestines. This may be due to an infection, or because you had taken too many antibiotics before. Watch out for gassiness especially on empty stomach.
  • IBS: Irritable bowel syndrome is a disease with diagnosis of exclusion. There is no absolute cure, and the treatment varies from one person to the next. Ways to relieve IBS symptoms include going on a low-FODMAP diet.
  • Celiac disease: An autoimmune disease in which the patient cannot eat gluten. To avoid bad breath due to celiac disease, avoid gluten.

These are only some of the possible causes of bad breath. Please visit your dentist to make sure that the bad breath is not originating from your mouth. If it is not, then raise your concerns to your GP so that they can identify the causes and refer you to a specialist.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Anny Taylor

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