There are many temporary or persistent causes of bad breath. Bad breath most frequently results from poor tooth brushing and oral care. Temporary bad breath may simply occur because of the food or beverages that you consumed, such as spicy foods, garlic, coffee, or alcohol. However, bad breath can be the sign or symptom of a medical or dental condition.
Mouth, Nose, Throat Conditions
Sinusitis, tonsillitis, strep throat, mononucleosis, bronchitis, and canker sores are all caused by infections that can cause nasal discharge, sputum, and bad breath. Zenker’s diverticulum is a throat condition that causes a pouch to form in the lower throat. Food that becomes trapped in the pouch can cause bad breath. In young children, foreign objects in the nose can cause both nasal drainage and bad breath.
Cigarettes and Chewing Tobacco
Smoking cigarettes and using chewing tobacco dry out your mouth and can contribute to gum disease and bad breath.
Medical Conditions and Diseases
There are a variety of medical conditions and diseases that can cause bad breath, some with distinct odors. For example, diabetes or severe dieting can cause fruity smelling breath, liver failure can cause fishy smelling breath, and kidney failure can cause urine-smelling breath. Lung infections produce a very bad odor, and breath that smells like feces can be caused by vomiting or bowel obstruction. Other causes of bad breath include dehydration, certain cancers, certain prescription medications, zinc deficiency, and stomach or digestive tract disorders.
Untreated dental conditions, such as impacted or infected teeth, and poor oral care can cause bad breath. An overgrowth of plaque on the teeth or gums is a main cause of gum disease (periodontal disease) and tooth decay that can lead to bad breath. The sugar or starch in foods that you eat increase plaque formation. Smoking, chewing tobacco, teeth grinding, and poor fitting dentures can make the condition even worse. Fortunately, good tooth brushing, flossing, and oral care can help prevent plaque buildup.
Saliva helps to keep your mouth moist and clean. People that smoke, take certain medications, breathe through their mouth while sleeping, or have salivary gland disorders may be vulnerable to bacteria build up on the tongue or in the mouth. This causes what is commonly referred to as “morning breath.”