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What causes bad breath?

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

While many causes are harmless, bad breath can sometimes be a sign of something more serious.


Bad breath can happen thanks to the hundreds of types of bacteria that live in your mouth. When you eat, bacteria feed on the food left in your mouth and leaves a foul-smelling waste product behind.

Dry Mouth

Your mouth might not be making enough saliva. Saliva is important because it works around the clock to wash out your mouth. Certain medications, salivary gland problems, or even breathing through your mouth can cause dry mouth.

Gum Disease

Bad breath that won’t go away or a constant bad taste in your mouth can be a warning sign of advanced gum disease. Caused by the build-up of sticky, cavity-causing plaque.


Garlic, onions, coffee… What you eat affects the air you exhale.

Smoking and Tobacco

Smoking stains your teeth, gives you bad breath and puts you at risk for a host of health problems. Tobacco irritates your gums and reduces your ability to taste foods. Smoking also affects your sense of smell, so smokers may not be aware of how their breath smells.

Medical Conditions

If you have good oral hygiene and your dentist ruled out other causes, your bad breath could be from a mouth infection, sinus condition, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease.

Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD

(626) 800-8022

👍 Good dental hygiene is crucial to have good breath


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