Halitosis: What’s causing my bad breath?

dentist CharlottesvilleHalitosis, the clinical term for bad breath can make a patient very self-conscious and it can signify oral and general health problems. The source(s) of halitosis can vary and can be quite easy to correct while others might require the attention of a physician or dentist. Bad breath can be caused by improper oral hygiene and dehydration or conditions like diseased teeth and infections.

Inadequate Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is your first line of defense for controlling oral bacteria and removing debris from leftover food. Both bacteria throughout the mouth and food lodged in the crevices of teeth can lead to bad breath. Not only is practicing proper oral hygiene essential to preventing halitosis, it helps prevent common oral disease. Patients should brush and floss thoroughly every day with products and tools approved by the American Dental Association.


Another common contributor to bad breath is dehydration. The soft tissues throughout the oral cavity should remain moist; however, when patients are dehydrated, their mouths can become dry. Dry mouth can often cause bad breath. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is imperative for staying hydrated and keeping oral tissue moist. People should consume at least 64-ounces of water each day. Monitoring salt intake helps reduce the risk for dehydration as well.

Diseased Teeth and Oral Infections

Severely decayed teeth and oral infections such as abscesses also contribute to halitosis. These conditions will cause bad breath even if a person is practicing proper oral hygiene and not dehydrated. Moreover, bad breath will not improve without treatment from a dentist or oral surgeon for diseased teeth. In some instances, teeth that are severely decayed or infected will need to be surgically removed (extracted) from the mouth.

Health Conditions

Certain health conditions and medications used to control issues like anxiety or allergies can have drying effects on the mouth, which in turn, lead to bad breath. When visiting your oral healthcare professional, be sure to mention conditions that you have been diagnosed with and the medications you take so that we can determine the underlying causes of dry mouth and/or halitosis.

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