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What Causes Halitosis?

Halitosis has a range of causes, some of which are pretty serious. Here are some of the most common offenders:

  • Food particles. Foods such as garlic, onion and other strong-smelling meal ingredients can leave particles behind in your mouth and on your tongue, resulting in an unpleasant post-lunch odor. Luckily, it's easily treated and not a chronic cause of halitosis.
  • Dry mouth. Medications, smoking and mouth breathing can contribute to having a dry mouth. This lack of saliva means bacteria isn't being rinsed out of the mouth as well as it should, and this can lead to bad breath. Occasional dry mouth is one thing, but your bad breath could become chronic as a side effect of daily smoking.
  • Dental problems. Dental issues can encourage bacteria to hide in cavities or pockets around the gums caused by conditions such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. Short-term breath freshening methods might mask the problem, but the smell can remain when the core issues go unchecked.
  • Medical issues. Some viruses and illnesses, particularly those that affect the sinuses, nasal passages and throat, can result in halitosis. Children with offensive breath might have a cold or sinus infection.