Causes of Bad Breath

3 Unexpected Causes of Bad Breath and How to Combat Them

By Dr. Eraldo Fejaz, January 25, 2024.

Table of Contents

Bad breath, often known as halitosis, can be an embarrassing and long-term issue for many people. While the most common causes of bad breath are poor oral hygiene and dietary habits, other aspects can also contribute to this unpleasant condition. This comprehensive instruction will examine three surprising reasons for bad breath and provide practical ways to help you restore fresh and confident breath.

1. Dry Mouth: A Hidden Culprit

Dry mouth, scientifically called xerostomia, is a frequently underestimated cause of bad breath. Saliva is pivotal in maintaining oral health as it rinses away food particles, bacteria, and dead cells. When inadequate saliva production, these particles accumulate, resulting in an unpleasant odour. Dry mouth can be caused by several things, including:

1. Medications:

Surprisingly, many commonly prescribed medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and diuretics, can diminish saliva production. If you suspect your medication may be the root reason for your dry mouth and bad breath, consult your healthcare provider to explore alternative options or strategies to counter this side effect.

2. Mouth Breathing:

Habitual mouth breathing can lead to dry mouth, especially during sleep. If you frequently wake up with bad breath, discussing this issue with your dentist or a healthcare professional who can identify and address the underlying cause is advisable.

3. Dehydration:

Even drinking enough water can cause dry mouth. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to promote salivation and lessen the chance of developing bad breath.

Combatting Dry Mouth and Restoring Fresh Breath

To alleviate dry mouth and its associated bad breath, consider the following strategies:

  • Consume lots of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  • Gum or sugar-free lozenges can be used to increase salivation.
  • For information on saliva replacement products, speak with your dentist or healthcare professional.
  • Alcohol and caffeine should be consumed in restraint as they can aggravate dry mouth.
  • Use a humidifier in your bedroom to keep the humidity at ideal levels.

2. Sinus and Respiratory Infections: The Unusual Suspects

Another surprising source of bad breath stems from sinus and respiratory infections. When you’re battling a cold, sinusitis, or other respiratory conditions, an increase in mucus production can lead to postnasal drip. This excess mucus creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, resulting in bad breath. Consider the following points:

  1. Treat the Underlying Infection: Seek advice from a healthcare professional to diagnose and treat sinus or respiratory infections. Proper treatment can help reduce mucus production and eliminate the source of bad breath.
  2. Practice Good Nasal Hygiene: Incorporate saline nasal sprays or irrigations into your daily routine. These methods help clear mucus from your nasal passages and reduce postnasal drip, shedding bad breath.
  3. Maintain Adequate Hydration: Drinking ample fluids can thin mucus, making it easier to remove from your respiratory system. This helps reduce the likelihood of bad breath.

Overcoming Sinus and Respiratory Infections for Fresher Breath

To combat bad breath resulting from sinus and respiratory infections, implement the following strategies:

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s advice for managing the underlying disease.
  • Consider over-the-counter saline nasal sprays to alleviate congestion and reduce postnasal drip.
  • Incorporate steam inhalation as part of your routine to ease congestion.
  • Ensure you stay well-hydrated to thin mucus and promote its clearance.

3. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): A Surprising Contributor

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), a digestive disorder characterized by acid reflux, is an unexpected source of bad breath. Stomach acid can regurgitate into the oesophagus and mouth, carrying with it an unpleasant odour. To manage bad breath linked to GERD, consider the following:

  1. Consult a Gastroenterologist: If you suspect you may have GERD, seek medical advice from a gastroenterologist. They can prescribe drugs or suggest lifestyle adjustments to help control acid reflux efficiently.
  2. Prioritize Oral Hygiene: Regularly brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can help minimize the impact of GERD-related bad breath. It will help to reduce the impact of stomach acid that enters the mouth.

While it’s widely understood that poor oral hygiene and dietary choices are primary contributors to bad breath, it’s imperative to acknowledge and address the less apparent factors at play. These often unexpected influences, including dry mouth, sinus and respiratory infections, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can all have a significant impact on the presence of halitosis.

Understanding these less-discussed causes of bad breath is the first step toward achieving fresher breath and a sense of renewed confidence in your daily life. By taking proactive measures to combat these underlying issues, you can enjoy the benefits of improved oral health and a heightened sense of well-being.

However, it’s crucial to emphasize that self-diagnosis and self-treatment may only sometimes yield the best results. As a result, seeking the assistance of healthcare professionals who can give an accurate diagnosis and tailor treatment options to your unique needs is strongly advised. This collaborative approach ensures that you address the root causes of bad breath effectively and promote your overall health and wellness.

By prioritizing these steps, you alleviate the discomfort of bad breath and take a significant stride toward maintaining optimal oral and general health. Remember, knowledge is power, and understanding the unexpected factors behind bad breath empowers you to take control of your well-being and confidently live life.


Common signs of bad breath include a persistent unpleasant odour from the mouth, a bad taste in the mouth, a dry mouth, and a white coating on the tongue. Remembering these signs is essential for managing the issue effectively.

Yes, poor oral hygiene is a primary cause of bad breath. When food particles, bacteria, and plaque accumulate in the mouth, they produce sulfur compounds that result in foul odours. Maintaining basic oral hygiene routines, such as brushing, flossing, and cleansing the tongue, is critical for having fresh breath.

To avoid bad breath caused by dietary choices, specify your intake of foods and beverages that promote foul breath, such as garlic, onions, coffee, and alcohol. Staying hydrated with water and chewing sugar-free gum or mints can freshen your breath after eating these foods.

Dry mouth can be identified by symptoms such as a persistent sensation of dryness, difficulty swallowing, and cracked lips. If you wake up with a dry mouth and bad breath in the morning, it may be a sign of mouth breathing during sleep.

If you’ve made efforts to enhance your oral hygiene, adjust your diet, and address common causes of bad breath without significant improvement, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional. Additionally, if you suspect that underlying medical conditions, such as GERD or sinus infections, may be contributing to your bad breath, seek professional evaluation and treatment.


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