There are a number of causes of bad breath, foremost among them being bacteria in the mouth, stomach and intestinal disturbances, bowel sluggishness, sinus or throat infections, and tobacco and alcohol use.
â€¢ Alcohol consumption causes digestive problems which leads to bad breath. In addition, alcohol dries out the mouth, which reduces saliva production. See below for more information.
â€¢ Stress is another cause which may not be readily apparent when you are looking for reasons for bad breath. Stress affects the digestive system. An insufficient supply of digestive enzymes may be another cause.
â€¢ Other sources of bad breath are in the nose and the nasopharynx, the area above the base of your tongue.
â€¢ Dieting may be a cause of bad breath.
â€¢ Since dehydration leads to constipation and digestive problems, it is very beneficial to drink 6-8 eight ounce glasses of water a day. Juice, coffee, tea, colas, etc. don't count!
â€¢ Bad breath may emanate from the back of the throat due to sinus or tonsil infections resulting in excess bacteria. If you have sinus or throat problems you may well have some form of allergy.
â€¢ Bad breath may also be the sign of potentially more serious medical conditions such as diabetes, duodenal ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux, hypoglycemia, kidney or liver malfunction, and respiratory disorders.
â€¢ The foods eaten also are a potential cause of halitosis. Certain foods, such as garlic, onions and certain spices are frequently cited as cause for a person's bad breath. Both vegetarians and those who eat large quantities of meat may develop bad breath due, in part, to the digestive process. Digestion begins in the mouth. Saliva has enzymes which begin the digestion process, and the type of food eaten can affect the food chemistry of the mouth. Saliva will also pick up odors from food within several hours after it has been eaten. Odors are strongest from carbohydrates - sugars, starches and cellulose, less strong from proteins, and nonexistent from fats. Bacteria in the mouth react with the decaying food and drink residue and can be the source of the foul odor.
â€¢ A milk intolerance often is the cause of bad breath. Eliminate all dairy products and see if they are the culprit.
â€¢ The stomach also is an area that causes bad breath problems for many people. Poor digestion, constipation, or bowel disorders may create gas which exits the mouth. Not enough hydrochloric acid in the stomach may cause poor digestion, so undigested food will pass into the intestines, putrefy and give off foul gas which rises up and causes bad breath. This problem is quite common with older people whose body does not produce enough hydrochloric acid naturally to aid the digestion process.
Another common digestive problem is due to the imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Food won't be digested properly and the result can be acid reflux, yeast overgrowth, or fermentation. One of the byproducts of this problem is bad breath. To correct this imbalance, use a probiotic.
â€¢ Diarrhea caused by intestinal parasites is the third leading cause of illness. If you have a number of the following symptoms: gas, diarrhea, chronic constipation, bloating, fatigue, skin rashes, nail biting, mood swings, insomnia, dry skin, brittle hair, hair loss, weight gain, bad breath, and muscle cramping, you should be tested for parasites.
â€¢ Dental problems, especially periodontal disease and tooth abscesses, are often the cause of bad breath. These infected areas harbor large quantities of bacteria from the infection and foods eaten which have been allowed to putrefy. Other dental sources are gaps between teeth or crooked teeth, both areas where food can be left to decay. Vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamin C and niacin, are the cause of some gum diseases, so follow the supplementation recommendations listed below. Don't chew gum or eat candy, as the sugar can leave a residue that promotes rapid bacterial growth. Each person's body chemistry is different, so what works for somebody may have no effect on somebody else, all due to that person's chemistry. See our gingivitis/periodontal section for more information on dental problems.