What Causes Bad Breath and How Can I Prevent It?

Do you find yourself popping mints, chewing gum, or using mouthwash to get rid of bad breath? If so, you're not alone. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to understand what's causing your bad breath so you can prevent it.

At Blakeney Dental in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dr. Mark Ranzinger and our trained staff specialize in general dental care. We offer a variety of options to restore your smile and improve your oral health. Whether it's custom-made bridges, dental implants, or crowns, we combine state-of-the-art technology with personalized care to achieve the best possible outcome.

Causes of bad breath

Also known as halitosis, bad breath affects about 1 in 4 people on a regular basis. There are many different causes of bad breath, here are a few:


Bacteria on the teeth and/or tongue, as well as small pieces of food trapped between the teeth, can result in bad breath. Certain foods like onions and garlic can also play a role. Crash diets that include fasting or eating a low amount of carbohydrates are known to cause halitosis.

Dry mouth

Saliva helps clean the mouth. If your saliva production decreases due to an issue with your salivary glands or another disease you may be more likely to suffer from halitosis.


Some medications can lead to halitosis. Antihistamines and diuretics are known to cause dry mouth, which causes bad breath. Before you take any medications, make sure you know the possible side effects. 

Smoking and tobacco

Not only does smoking and tobacco cause bad breath, but they can also put you at higher risk for gum disease. Gum disease, which is the buildup of plaque, is another contributing factor to bad breath. If left untreated, gum disease can cause damage to the gums and jawbone.

Other reasons

Infections in the mouth, tonsils, sinuses, or throat can result in bad breath. As can diseases like some cancers, metabolic disorders, and gastroesophageal reflux.

Ways to prevent bad breath

The good news is there are things you can do to keep your breath smelling fresh. For example:

Practice good oral hygiene

Brush your teeth after you eat and don't forget about your tongue — there are bacteria there, too. Floss and clean any dentures or dental appliances daily. Keep your toothbrush in good shape by replacing it every three to four months.

Fight dry mouth

Coffee, sodas, and alcohol can dry out the mouth so avoid them and drink plenty of water instead. Consider chewing gum or sucking on hard candy to increase saliva production and avoid bad-smelling breath.

Watch your diet

Cut back or eliminate spicy foods. Sugary foods can also cause bad breath so keep those to a minimum.

Avoid tobacco

If applicable, quit smoking or using chewing tobacco. It will improve your breath, reduce your risk of gum disease, and help keep your teeth whiter.

Get professional help

Regular dental cleaning appointments can help keep bad breath at bay. It'll also keep your dentist up to date on your dental health, so you can avoid gum disease or any other issues.

Your dentist can also provide professional recommendations for mouthwash and/or toothpaste that can assist in preventing a build-up of bacteria.

If you're tired of suffering from bad breath, contact us to book an appointment with Dr. Ranzinger today!

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