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What Causes Bad Breath?

Are you self-conscious of your breath? If you can smell (or even taste) something off in you mouth, this could be a sign of poor oral hygiene, or worse, disease.

The medical term for bad breath is called halitosis. There are numerous reasons why you may be experiencing bad breath, however the most common cause comes down to poor dental health habits.

When we eat, tiny particles of food get trapped in between the teeth and gums. If you fail to brush and floss properly, these food particles support bacterial growth, which can cause your breath to smell bad.

Considering the main cause of bad breath is a lack of dental health habits, the good news is that treating bad breath is as simple as regular brushing and flossing. However, there are a few more intricate reasons why you may be experiencing bad breath.

Here is a list of other possible causes:
Dry mouth

Saliva is an integral part of your oral health, keeping your mouth hydrated and clean. Saliva contains proteins and minerals that protects tooth enamel and fights germs, bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.

Fad diets

When we cut certain food groups from our diet in a bid to lose weight, it’s important to understand the numerous other health impacts you may experience. Some fad diets can cause bad breath, as well as fatigue, nausea, headaches, constipation, and more.

In particular, a low-carbohydrate and high-protein diet causes the body to breakdown fats differently, due to a lack of carbohydrates. This process leads to the production of the chemical ketones, which has a strong odour.


Bad breath is a common side effect from some medication as certain drugs can reduce your natural saliva production, as well as release chemicals in the mouth and breath.

Mouth, sinus, or throat conditions

Infections or inflammation in the mouth, nose or throat can produce an odour and lead to bad breath.

Yeast infection

If you notice your tongue has white patches, you may have developed oral thrush. This is a yeast infection caused by a pH imbalance of candida fungus. It can cause bad breath as well as make your mouth taste off.


Tobacco itself leaves a strong odour behind, otherwise known as smoker’s breath. However, smoking also dries out the mouth, which further adds to bad breath, as well as increases your chances of gum disease and tooth decay.

Strong smelling foods

Certain food and drink with strong odours – such as onions, garlic and coffee – can also enhance the effects of bad breath. Even if you stay on top of proper oral hygiene practices, the lingering odour from these foods can stay in your bloodstream for up to 72 hours. When we digest food and drink, our stomach absorbs the oils. These oils make their way into the bloodstream and to the lungs.

While some of these strong smelling foods provide great nutritional benefits, it’s important to stay on top of good oral hygiene practices to wash away any particles and keep your mouth looking, feeling and smelling fresh.


If you’ve noticed an unusual odour in your breath, yet can’t pinpoint the reason why, it could be a symptom of a disease such as gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), diabetes, liver or kidney failure, or a metabolic disease. It’s important to take note of the smell and book an appointment with your dentist and doctor to get to the bottom of the underlying problem.

If you’re embarrassed about your breath, don’t let the problem continue. It could do your health more harm than you think.

While bad breath generally comes down to poor dental practices, it pays to get a health professional to investigate the cause.

Here at Mulgrave Dental Group, we believe dentistry goes beyond pearly whites. Your mouth is the window to your health, that’s why we take our job seriously.

We want every patient who walks through out clinic doors to leave not only with a brighter smile, but a healthier and happier body.

To book an appointment with us today, call (03) 9562 5156.

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