Causes of Bad Breath

Categories: Oral Health

bad breathSanta Cruz, Scotts Valley CA

Bad breath — also called halitosis — can have several underlying causes, but in many cases, the culprit is poor oral hygiene. Of course, eating strong-smelling foods like those containing garlic and onions … or drinking strong beverages like coffee … will cause smelly breath, but this is usually temporary. If you notice people routinely turning away from you when you’re talking or giving a hug, it may be time to talk about bad breath.

Read on for information compiled by our Santa Cruz dentists about what may cause bad breath and how to correct it.

Oral hygiene

Bad breath that lingers is usually caused by bacteria in the mouth that coats the teeth, gums and tongue. As gross as it sounds, the bacteria, without proper oral hygiene, can build up to become plaque and tartar, and the bacteria release smelly gases that cause bad breath. Also, food particles can get trapped between teeth, and if brushing and flossing aren’t thorough or frequent enough, the particles essentially start to rot in the mouth. Gross, we know.

Medical issues

A condition called dry mouth, when the mouth produces less saliva than average, can result in bad breath. The lack of saliva, sometimes caused by a salivary gland problem, can cause bacteria to build up in the mouth. But dry mouth can also be caused by certain medications and mouth breathing. Other medical conditions that could cause bad breath: liver or kidney problems; infections of the throat, nose or lungs; diabetes; sinusitis, and bronchitis.

If you suffer from bad breath and our Scotts Valley cosmetic dentists determine it isn’t from poor oral hygiene, they will refer you to a general practitioner or specialist who can professionally diagnose the reason for your chronic bad breath.

Tobacco use

Smoking is notorious for causing foul-smelling breath. A multitude of reasons exist to stop smoking; the dangers to physical health have been widely studied and reported. Smoking can also irritate the mouth and gums and cause loss of taste. Smokers have a high chance of developing gum disease, heart disease and various cancers, including mouth cancer. Our dentists near Los Gatos encourage you to stop smoking if you have an issue with bad breath. If that doesn’t correct the breath issue, then talk to your dentist or other healthcare provider about potential causes.


While there are many potential causes for bad breath, the most common is also the most simple to solve: poor oral hygiene. Brushing teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, flossing at least once daily, using a mouthwash approved by the American Dental Association and visiting the dentist twice a year for professional cleanings will go a long way toward helping you keep your mouth fresh and clean. And that’s the most critical foundation for better breath. Are you struggling with bad breath, or is it time for your dental checkup? Contact our Santa Cruz family dentists at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry by calling (831) 824-5111 or reaching us online today!