Halitosis | Causes & Risk Factors

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What causes bad breath?

Most bad breath (also called halitosis) comes from something in your mouth. Food sticks between your teeth, around the gums and on your tongue. If you don't brush and floss your teeth every day, this food can rot. The rotten bits of food cause a bad smell in your mouth. Rotten food also helps bacteria grow in your mouth. These bacteria can cause gum disease (also called gingivitis). Gingivitis also causes bad breath.

The things you eat and drink can also affect your breath. Common examples of foods and beverages that may cause bad breath include onions, garlic, cheese, pastrami, certain spices, orange juice and soda. Once these foods are digested, their oils are absorbed into your bloodstream and carried into the lungs. The odor is given off in your breath until all of the food is out of your body.

Bad breath may also be a sign of a health problem. Sinus infections, chronic lung infections, liver or kidney diseases, and diabetes are some health conditions that may cause bad breath.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 09/00

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