How To Get Rid Of Bad Breath (11 Most Common Causes + Fix)

Bad Breath - Common Causes and Fix

Irrespective of our gender, age or status, there are certain things in us that get noticed by others.

Few such things are our smile, the looks of our eyes, the smell we emit from our body, the clothes we are draped in and the way our hair is groomed.

Among the above factors, the smell we emit from our body either attracts people towards us or repels them away from us.

This smell does not only pertain to our physical body but also to our mouth which gets affected quite often.

Bad Breath​​​​

Bad Breath

Bad breath, also known as 'Halitosis', causes huge embarrassment to you as well as to the people you interact with.

It makes you so uncomfortable and restricts you from speaking with people confidently.

As a result, you often feel scared to communicate with people and tend to suffer in silence.

Above all, it lowers your self-esteem and affects your social and personal life.

Ultimately, bad breath is so unpleasant and it’s something that nobody wants.

But unfortunately, most of us experience it, that too on important occasions.

Fret not! You are not alone.

It is estimated that one in four people have bad breath globally. (Source)

Bad breath can be caused by various factors ranging from simple to serious.

Some of the most common causes include poor dental hygiene, gum disease, bad food habits, smoking and certain medical conditions.

However, bad breath can be prevented by incorporating good oral hygiene along with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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Causes of Bad Breath

The first step to tackle any problem is to understand the cause of it.

When you understand the root cause, it will be easy to treat the problem.

Therefore, let us look at some of the common causes of bad breath and how to fix them.

Let’s dive in right away.

1. Improper Oral Care

Improper Oral Care

Poor dental hygiene is one of the major reasons behind bad breath.

When you feel lazy to clean your mouth, you are renting it out to bacteria.

The bacteria that invades your mouth as a tenant form a thin line of film (plaque) on your teeth and gums.

This plaque inside the mouth produces a foul odour.

If not taken the right action, this leads to tooth decay and more serious oral problems.

THE FIX: Brush and Floss regularly

Brush regularly and practice good oral hygiene at all points of time.

Try to brush your teeth at least twice a day.

However, don’t overdo it as brushing too much can wear down your teeth and gum.

Also, don’t just stop with brushing the teeth, make sure to floss and rinse as well.

This is because flossing helps in removing the extra food particles stuck between your teeth and the gum line.

If this food residue sits in for a long time, it will decay and breed bacteria causing lousy odour.

Therefore, make sure to floss your teeth at least once a day.

If you want help with flossing, you can follow this link: How to floss your teeth.

In addition to these, try to rinse your mouth after every meal.

In this way, you will be preventing the formation of bacteria in your mouth and thus, eliminating the chance of developing bad breath.


Replace your brush every THREE MONTHS.

2. Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, is also one of the most common causes of bad breath.

Xerostomia is a condition that occurs when the amount of saliva produced is too less.

Saliva acts as a natural mouth wash by flushing away pesky food particles and dead cells that are accumulated on your teeth and gums.

If these are not removed, they decompose and become a tasty treat for odorous bacteria.

Therefore, saliva plays a crucial role in oral hygiene.

Dry mouth is caused due to various factors like dehydration, smoking, breathing via the mouth or due to certain illness and their medications.

But the good news is it’s easily preventable.

THE FIX: Stay Hydrated

  • Water is a magical drink that cures many types of ailments we experience time and again.
    And one such ailment is bad breath.
    Water hydrates your body and helps in flushing out the food residue and bacteria from your mouth.
    Hence, consume a small amount of water frequently to keep your mouth hydrated and odour-free
  • And one such ailment is bad breath.
    Water hydrates your body and helps in flushing out the food residue and bacteria from your mouth.
    Hence, consume a small amount of water frequently to keep your mouth hydrated and odour-free
  • Avoid breathing from the mouth as it dries out mouth quickly.
  • Quit smoking and chewing tobacco which do no good for your body as well as mouth
  • Chew sugar-free gum as it stimulates your salivary glands and helps in saliva production.
    Make sure that it’s free from sugar.
    This is because bacteria love sugars.
    And sugar consumed in any form is capable of fermenting bacteria.

The bacteria thus fermented by sugar increases rapidly causing tooth decay.Decayed teeth become infected and produce more intolerable bad breath.

So, avoid sugary foods and drinks.

  • If you want to chew something natural then chew some citrus fruits like lemon or orange.The citric acid present in them acts as saliva stimulants and combats dry mouth.

If none of the above things works for you, then consult your dentist at earliest.

3. Eating Pungent Smelling Foods

Eating pungent smelling foods

Certain food items like Garlic and onion cause immense bad odour even when it is consumed in a fully cooked condition.

This is due to high concentrations of sulfur compounds present in them.

These sulfur compounds are released during the digestion process and enter the bloodstream, eventually reaching your lungs.

Once the blood reaches your lungs, it affects your breath.

This stinky smell is expelled from your lungs as you breathe.

THE FIX: Try to limit the intake

Even brushing and flossing your teeth doesn’t help much as it comes from your internal system.

The only way to save your breath is by avoiding them.

If you cannot avoid them as a whole, try to limit your intake.

If that is not possible, at least try to avoid them when you go for a public place or social gathering where you have to interact with people.

4. Missing out the Tongue Cleaning

Missing out tongue cleaning

We ensure to brush our teeth right, left, front and back.

But, most of us miss out to clean tongue.

If you neglect to clean your tongue, then all your oral hygiene efforts will go in vain.

This is because unlike your teeth, food debris and bacterial plaque can accumulate on your tongue as well.

Especially, the back portion of your tongue has many grooves making it the perfect dwelling place for bad breath causing bacteria.

Have you ever felt bad odour even after brushing your teeth?

That’s because you failed to clean your tongue.

That is why, it is very important to clean not only your teeth but your tongue as well.

THE FIX: Clean your Tongue

Cleaning the tongue plays a crucial role in maintaining oral hygiene.

Therefore, clean your tongue once or twice daily using a tongue scraper or toothbrush that has a built-in tongue cleaner.

You can also use a spoon to scrub your tongue as well.

This will remove the odorous bacteria on your tongue, thereby, keeping your bad breath at bay.

Your tongue is a sensitive muscle.

So, try to be gentle.

Don’t use the bristle of your brush as it’s harsh and irritating.

Use only the back portion of your brush that is designed specifically for tongue cleaning.

5. Gum Disease

Gum disease

Bad breath can also occur due to tooth decay and gum disease.

When you get affected due to plaque, gums get irritated constantly.

The toxins and dead cells that forms due to plaque decompose and cause irritation in the gums.

Bacteria will start accumulating at the base of your damaged gums causing nasty odour.

However, gum disease can also be caused due to various other factors like smoking, chewing tobacco, allergies and certain illness.

So, try to know the root cause for your gum disease and take the treatment accordingly.

THE FIX: Consult a Dentist

The only solution to this problem is by visiting your dentist and taking treatment.

If not treated at the right time, it will only worsen the gum diseases leading to more complex problems like tooth decay and oral cancer.

6. Eating and Drinking anything and everything

Eating and drinking anything and everything

The foods you eat also contribute to bad breath.

This is because the foods you eat is eventually released into the bloodstream and the lungs along with its odour.

This odour is then expelled from the lungs through the mouth as you exhale.

Apart from onion and garlic, there are other foods that generate bad breath.

Few of which includes processed foods, spicy curries, seafood, dairy products, eggs, fish and meat.

Also, acidic beverages such as coffee, alcohol and soda can leave a lingering smell.

THE FIX: Eat a Balanced Diet

Focus on eating wholesome foods like dark green vegetables, raw fruits, and whole-grain foods.

In addition to that, eat fibre-rich foods as it aids in digestion and helps to eliminate waste from your body.

Cut down carbonated, sugary food and drinks including chocolates, cakes, and candies – as bacteria thrive on sugar.

Also, avoid processed or preservative junk foods as it affects your gut health by causing a bacterial build up in the digestive tract which, in turn, becomes another reason for bad breath.

Therefore, replace those junk foods with probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, yogurt and kombucha tea.

These probiotic foods increase the good bacteria in your gut, thereby, giving less room for the bad bacteria.

And hence, they prevent bad breath.

Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, carrot, celery, etc.

These crunchy foods act as a natural toothbrush by scrubbing away the food debris, plaque and bacteria that are clinging to your teeth and gums.

Lastly, avoid acidic drinks like coffee, alcohol and soda as they linger in the mouth and smell sour.

Further, the acidic content present in them can hurt the enamel on your tooth.

Plus, they also cause dry mouth which, in turn, gives room for bad breath causing bacteria.

Instead, replace those with healthy drinks like tea, fruit juices (sugarless) and of course, water.

These drinks not only prevents stinky breath but also keeps you healthy and hydrated.

7. Illness and Infections

Illness and infections

Bad breath is not always related to oral hygiene, it can also be caused by various illness and infections.

If you are experiencing bad odour even after following proper oral care and a healthy lifestyle, then it may be from an underlying health problem.

Bad breath can occur due to various illness such as diabetes, gastric reflux, bronchitis, liver or kidney disease.

Sinus infections or cold can also contribute to bad breath.

These infections can lead to post nasal drip producing mucus which is a super feast for bacteria that produces lousy odour.

THE FIX: Regular Health Check-ups​​​​

You must make sure to undergo overall health check-ups once or twice a year.

This helps to prevent and treat any underlying health issues.

8. Dieting and Fasting

Dieting and fasting

Fasting or eating a low-carb diet in order to lose that extra flab in the body can also cause an unpleasant odour.

When the body doesn’t get proper nutrients, it breaks down the stored fat for energy.

In this process, your body releases ketones.

These ketones, by nature, are foul smelling and this smell is termed as 'ketone breath'.

So, when this chemical is released by the body due to fasting or low carb diet, it results in bad breath.

THE FIX: Change your Dieting Plan

As it comes from the internal system, you can’t get rid of keto breath just by brushing.

The only way is to change your diet plan or consume more liquids like water and juice in between.

9. Smoking and Chewing Tobacco

Smoking and chewing tobacco

Smoking and chewing tobacco also contribute to bad breath.

Smoking particles linger in the throat and lungs creating a stale smell which is referred to as 'Smoker’s Breath'.

Meanwhile, the chemicals in tobacco linger in your mouth and build up plaque on your teeth and gums.

This also, in turn, becomes an ideal place for odour-causing bacteria.

In addition to that, smoking and chewing tobacco cause dry mouth which is another reason for bad breath.

Besides, they not only cause bad breath but also result in more serious issues like gum disease, oral cancer and lung cancer.

THE FIX: Quit the habit of Smoking and Chewing Tobacco

Quitting is the only way to fix this issue.

Giving up this dangerous habit will not only improve your breath but also your life.

If you find difficulty in quitting you can either make an appointment with your doctor or talk to a specialist here: Get Live help from an expert.

10. Certain Medications

Certain Medications

At times, most of us wonder why we are emitting stinky breath even while no modifications have been made to any of our habits.

Here, the real culprit may be any new medication that we initiated to address a certain health issue.

These medicines prescribed by medical professionals for chronic conditions like depression, specific types of allergies and blood pressure enters into the bloodstream.

The subsequent chemical reaction caused in the bloodstream initiates bad breath in the oral cavity.

THE FIX: Use Mouth-Fresheners

As you are taking this medication to address some issue, you cannot stop it mid-way.

However, you can mask it by using mouth fresheners like sugar-free gums, cardamom and others.

11. Skipping Dental Check-up

Skipping dental check-up

As a final note, ensure you go in for dental check-up regularly at least twice a year.

The dentist will examine your mouth thoroughly and prescribe certain solutions to any dental problems if any.

This will help in avoiding the formation of cavities in the teeth or gums owing to the cleaning activities carried out medically.

Besides, you will get to know if there is any underlying health problems or some serious issue that needs to be addressed.

This way you can treat it more early and prevent it from becoming more serious.

Therefore, make sure to visit your dentist regularly.

Quick Tips to get rid of Bad Breath

Quick tips for bad breath

Here are a few quick tips to counter bad breath like a boss. 

  • Brush and floss twice a day followed by rinsing. Make sure to clean your tongue as well.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after every meal.
  • Use an alcohol-free mouth wash.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Carry a travel toothbrush wherever you go.
  • Replace coffee with green tea as it has antibacterial and deodorizing properties.
  • Say good-bye to smoking and chewing tobacco.
  • Replace your toothbrush for every 2-3 months.
  • Use natural and anti-bacterial mouth fresheners like mint leaves, lemon rind, cloves, cardamom seeds, and fennel.
  • If you are using dentures, make sure to clean it every day as it can leave spaces for oral bacteria to grow. Also, make sure to remove them every night.
  • If you are prone to bad breath for one reason or the other, ensure to gargle your mouth using lukewarm saline water. As salt has anti-bacterial properties, it will help in eliminating bad breath.
  • Avoid breathing through your mouth as it can cause dry mouth. Therefore, always breathe via nose.
  • Make sure that you consume only those food items that do not cause bad breath. If not, you will be forced to go in for the cleaning activities next.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist and hydrated. Remember, when you fail to keep your body hydrated, you are leasing out your mouth for bacteria.
  • Finally, go for regular dental check-ups.

The Bottom Line

Bad Breath - The Bottom Line

With proper oral care, balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, you can safeguard your mouth against odorous bacteria.

So, you need not have to feel anymore hesitation or embarrassment while speaking.

Know your cause for bad breath and fix it so that you can speak and smile confidently.