Bad Breath: Know the Causes, the Potential Risks, and the Solutions for Treating It

| 7 min read


Perhaps you know it by its more common name: bad breath!

However you refer to it (or experience it), you likely want to know the causes, potential health risks, and solutions for dealing with bad breath.

First, you’re not alone. Millions of people experience bad breath.

Even so, being among the shared experience crowd probably doesn’t help with the impact of bad breath, personally speaking.

The condition affects:

  • Your self-esteem
  • Your relational confidence
  • Your overall quality of life

What causes bad breath?

Like many oral health conditions, bad breath can typically be traced to poor dental hygiene. Thriving oral bacteria take advantage of inconsistent or ignored oral care.

Bacteria that multiply on your teeth, gums, and tongue also release the ingredients that result in unpleasant or foul-smelling breath.

You might also have a dry-mouth condition. Lack of essential saliva can enhance bacterial growth in your mouth leading to bad breath.

And of course, certain foods such as onions or garlic are prime suspects for having bad breath.

Beyond the bacterial or dietary elements bad breath can also be a symptom of other dental issues including:

  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay
  • An infection or abscess

As well, general health conditions can produce systemic results like bad breath.

  • Respiratory and/or sinus infections
  • Acid reflux
  • Diabetes

And of course, alcohol or tobacco use adds to the potential for bad breath on occasion.

What are the potential health risks associated with bad breath?

No doubt, the social impact of bad breath is worth seeking a solution. Alongside the social embarrassment it’s essential to be aware of the potential symptomatic impact of bad breath on your health.

The keyword here is “persistent” bad breath. If your condition is associated with an underlying oral health issue you could be at risk of a worsening outcome.

  • Untreated gum disease can result in tooth loss and bone damage.
  • Oral bacteria that’s not eliminated can migrate and affect other areas of your body including your heart and lungs.

How to treat bad breath

There’s good news! You can manage and eliminate your bad breath condition.

The baseline is following effective oral hygiene habits…consistently. Taking those habits up-a-notch you’ll want to include the following bad breath solutions.

Set a daily dental care routine and stick to it

  • Brush your teeth two times each day using fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth daily.
  • Reduce oral bacteria by using an anti-bacterial mouthwash.

Keep your tongue clean

Tongue scrapers or gently brushing your tongue with your toothbrush are an effective way to prevent bacterial build-up on your tongue.


Drink water throughout each day. Hydration also increases saliva production and helps eliminate harmful oral bacteria.

Watch your diet

Certain foods increase the likelihood of bad breath. Limit your intake of odor-rich foods such as garlic, onions, etc.

Manage your lifestyle choices

Tobacco and alcohol use can trigger dry mouth and thus increase a bad breath condition.

Schedule regular dental check-ups

Twice per year is a good benchmark for dental visits including a professional teeth cleaning from a licensed dental hygienist. Your dentist can diagnose and/or treat any conditions that could be causing bad breath.

Stay health aware

Again, persistent bad breath could indicate a deeper health issue. Consult with your medical provider to determine the underlying cause.

Bad breath is more than a social issue. It’s essential to your oral health and general physical health to monitor and treat bad breath.

A good place to start is with preventive dental care. Scheduling an examination or diagnostic consultation with a licensed, online dentist is a convenient option to consider.

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  • Convenient, time-saving access to low cost, virtual dental consultations
  • Connection to in-person dental care (such as teeth cleanings) with dentists in your zip code

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