• Halitosis – What Causes It and How to Prevent It

  • Bad breath. What actually causes it? Is it preventable? Here are a few tips about why our breath smells the way it does. 

    What Causes Our Breath to Smell?

    There are a few different reasons someone might have chronic bad breath. Among these are:


    We eat many different types of foods. The salvia in our mouths and beverages do a pretty good job of rinsing away most of the chewed food we consume. But some foods have such a strong odor on their own that they stick around. Foods like onions and garlic in particular can be rather pungent. 

    Oral Hygiene

    Small particles of food can be left behind in the mouth and on the teeth after we finish eating.  Naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth break them down and produce a bad smell. Brushing and flossing can remove these particles and bacteria. Poor oral hygiene – especially skipping flossing – can result in a build-up of bad-smelling food particles and bacteria. Plaque, which is a film of bacteria that accumulates on your teeth, can irritate the gums and lead to inflammation and bleeding – causing a bad odor. 

    Dry Mouth

    The mouth naturally produces saliva to rinse away particles in the mouth. Certain diseases or medications can cause excessive dry mouth and lead to particles building up that cause odor. 


    Using cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco can wreak havoc on your breath. They also increase your chances of getting gum disease which in turn also causes bad breath.

    Medications and Supplements

    Some medications have side effects like dry mouth or breakdown in the stomach to produce a bad odor. Dietary supplements can also have a negative effect on the scent of your breath. Omega 3 in particular can contribute to bad breath. 


    Certain diets can result in your body making sudden changes. Low-carb diets in particular can trigger your body to break down fat-producing ketones. This may exhibit a strong smell. 


    Different types of diseases can cause bad breath. Liver failure, cancer, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), and metabolic diseases can all cause bad breath. 


    The best treatment to reduce bad breath is simply maintaining good oral hygiene and drinking plenty of water. Brush your teeth twice daily and floss to reduce the build-up of bacteria between your teeth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue as well. To further reduce the chances of bad breath, avoid certain foods like garlic and onions. Some spicy and sugary foods have also been linked to bad breath. 

    While bad breath is bothersome, it is very avoidable with proper oral care. If you have good oral hygiene habits but are still experiencing halitosis, please call us at (503) 328-6388 to make an appointment so we can take a further look. It might be a sign of gum disease, trapped food, or a rotting tooth.