Oral Health: What Bad Breath Says About Your Health

Reviewed on 7/16/2020


Snoring is just one of many bad breath causes.

What causes bad breath? There are many causes, but if you snore you may get bad breath from the throat. That's because snoring makes your mouth and throat dry out. A lack of saliva production that occurs when you snore allows bacteria to grow, which gives you bad breath. Back sleepers are more likely to snore.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is one of the more common causes of bad breath.

Gum disease is one common cause of chronic bad breath. It usually results in bad breath that has a metallic smell. The cause of gum disease is bacteria that grow under the gum line. This causes infection and inflammation, or periodontitis. People who smoke or do not floss and brush regularly are more likely to get gum disease. It may also be genetic and runs in families.

Acid Reflux

One bad breath cure may be involve treating acid reflux.

Acid reflux is a condition where stomach acid works its way back up the esophagus from the stomach. It may give you bad breath that has a sour odor. You may reflux liquid or food into your mouth. The acid can be damaging to the mouth and throat, causing more odor.


Bad breath treatment may involve getting diabetes under control.

Diabetes may result in bad breath when the body creates ketones to use for fuel instead of glucose (sugar). If you have diabetes and bad breath, reach out to your doctor because you may be low on insulin.

H. Pylori

Bad breath from the stomach may result from H. pylori infection.

H. pylori is a type of bacteria that increases the risk of ulcers and stomach cancer. It may also lead to bad breath, heartburn, nausea, gastrointestinal pain, and indigestion. One way to get rid of bad breath is to treat this infection if you have it. Your doctor can test you for H. pylori and can give you antibiotics if you need them.

Respiratory Infections

A bad breath remedy may include treating an underlying respiratory infection.

Bronchitis, sinus infections, colds, and coughs are a few types of respiratory infections that may contribute to bad breath. This happens because these conditions result in bacteria-filled mucus in the nose and mouth that has a bad odor. Bad breath resolves when the condition does.


Some medicines cause bad breath because they dryChronically bad breath may be due to certain medications you are taking.  out your mouth.

Medications that cause dry mouth result in a decrease in saliva, which allows smelly bacteria to grow. Heart medications containing nitrates may cause bad breath. So can certain sleep meds and chemotherapy. Excess consumption of vitamins may cause bad breath, too.

Tonsil Stones

Get rid of bad breath by getting rid of tonsil stones.

Tonsils are part of the lymphatic system and are situated in the back of the throat. If your tonsils are pitted and have crypts, you may be more likely to develop tonsil stones when bits of food get caught in the crevices and calcium collects around the areas. Bacteria grows on tonsil stones leading to bad breath. Some people are able to dislodge tonsil stones by using a toothbrush or a cotton swab. Brush and floss daily and brush your tongue to discourage the formation of tonsil stones. And gargle well with salt water after you eat. Check with your doctor if you develop frequent tonsil stones. Some people may be advised to have their tonsils removed.


Drink more water and treat any conditions that contribute to dry mouth to dissuade bad breath.

Wondering how to fix bad breath? Drink more water. Dehydration results in decreased production of saliva which allows bacteria to grow. It is also possible to develop dry mouth as a result of certain conditions, including Sjögren's syndrome and scleroderma. These conditions affect salivary glands and may lead to dry mouth and bad breath.


You may have bad breath symptoms due to an infection after oral surgery.

Oral injuries may lead to bad breath if they become infected with bacteria. An injury may be due to an accident or the result of oral surgery on your gums or in your mouth. If you get a tooth pulled, the remaining socket may become infected. Always follow your dentist's or oral surgeon's instructions after having dental procedures. Report any problems to your dental health professional right away. If you do develop an infection, the doctor can give you antibiotics to treat the infection. Rinsing with salt water may help keep your mouth clean and deter the proliferation of bacteria.

Liver Failure

Liver failure may produce bad breath that smells sweet and moldy.

Liver failure can produce a specific kind of bad breath called "fetor hepaticus." It may smell moldy and sweet. This kind of odor results due to severe liver disease. Other symptoms, like yellowish jaundiced eyes, may occur. Jaundice happens when bilirubin builds up in the bloodstream.

Kidney Failure

There is a link between bad breath and disease like kidney failure.

Kidney failure may be associated with "fishy" smelling breath due to the kidney's reduced ability to filter out toxins. Bad breath occurs most often in the late stages of kidney failure or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The treatment for kidney failure is dialysis to filter the blood or a kidney transplant.

Oral Health: What Bad Breath Says About Your Health

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