Dental Hygienist

Bad Breath: What Causes It And How Do You Cure It?

Published on 02/07/2024

Perhaps the worst thing about bad breath is that the person with the bad breath is often the last to know about it. In most cases, bad breath is little more than a minor embarrassment, but it could point to an underlying condition that needs to be addressed.

There are lots of reasons you might get bad breath, which means you’ll need to find the cause before you can find the cure.

In this guide, we’re looking at some of the most common causes of bad breath and how to cure it. The first step to curing your bad breath is often a trip to the dentist for a routine checkup. This can help to identify the underlying cause so that you can treat it with confidence.

What causes bad breath?

What causes bad breath?

There are many reasons you might have bad breath, from diet to medications. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of bad breath:

Dietary choices

Some food choices are notorious for giving you bad breath after you eat. Lifestyle choices can also cause bad breath. Foods that cause bad breath include onions, garlic, tuna, horseradish and some dairy. Smoking or chewing tobacco can also cause bad breath.

How to cure this: The best way to get rid of bad breath from food is to stop eating the food, brush your teeth, use mouthwash, or chew some chewing gum. Bad breath from food doesn’t indicate a health issue and there isn’t cause for concern. Smoking can make bad breath worse as it dehydrates your mouth which can make bad smells worse. Consider quitting smoking to improve your breath and your wider health.

Food stuck in your teeth

Food stuck in your teeth

You could suffer from bad breath if you often have food debris stuck in your teeth. This is more common as you get older, as the gums start to recede and this can expose large pockets close to your gum line and between your teeth. Crooked teeth are also more likely to suffer from food debris that can cause bad breath.

How to cure this: Make sure you are brushing and flossing your teeth properly. You might want to keep a small bottle of mouthwash with you when you are out and about so you can rinse properly after a meal. Regular dental hygienist cleanings can help to keep your gums healthy to avoid gaps getting larger.

Certain medications

Some medications can cause dry mouth which can lead to bad breath. This includes over the counter medicines to treat things like hay fever and acid reflux. If you have started taking new medication and noticed your breath smells bad, speak to your pharmacist about making changes.

How to cure this: You may not be able to stop taking your medication, so you will instead have to mask the problem while it is happening. Try sucking mints which will freshen your breath and also help to prevent dry mouth.

Gum disease

Gum disease

Issues with your gums could lead to bad breath. One of the most obvious symptoms of gum disease is bad breath and an unpleasant taste in the mouth. This is due to a buildup of bacteria on the teeth and gums.

How to cure this: The first step will be to visit your dentist or dental hygienist for treatment advice. You might need regular professional cleanings to help address the problem. You will then need to care for your teeth properly at home. This could include adding extra steps to your oral care routine such as specialist mouthwash or a water flosser.

Health conditions

Some health conditions can cause bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth. One of the most common causes is a sinus infection. To make this worse, some treatments for sinus infections will also cause bad breath. You might not be able to smell it when your sinuses are blocked, but those around you will be aware.

How to cure this: Visit your GP or pharmacist to address the sinus infection. Once your sinus infection has been dealt with, you should be free from bad breath. If you have chronic recurring sinus infections, you will need to speak to your GP to understand the cause.

Poor oral hygiene

Perhaps one of the most common causes of bad breath is simply poor oral hygiene. If you often forget to brush your teeth or skip out on steps like flossing, you might notice bad breath is a side effect.

How to cure this: You’ll need to start taking care of your teeth by brushing and flossing twice a day. You might also consider using mouthwash after brushing and using a tongue scraper to help remove smell-causing bacteria from your mouth. This will help to address the issue over time and the smell should go away.