Top 10 Causes of Bad Breath in Adults

Bad breath is very common among people of all age groups all over the word. It is a condition that is referred to as chronic halitosis in medical circles. While it may not be physically discomforting and never painful, the social effects associated with bad breath are many and far reaching.


Also Read: Dental care tips for children

For instance, it lowers self-esteem meaning that it makes people have very low opinions of themselves even when they have no other cause to do so. Also, when you have bad breath, you will not be as comfortable speaking in public as you would otherwise be.​

The causes of bad breath in adults can be grouped into two broad categories. The first category is made up of factors that cause short term bad breath. Short term bad breath usually lasts for less than a day and, in most cases usually fades off on its own after a meal.

By flossing and brushing your teeth using toothpaste or even disguised by breath mints it can easily be taken care of. Short term bad breath, strictly speaking, cannot be classified as chronic halitosis.​

The second category of causes results in the long term bad breath. This is much harder to take care of and usually lasts for more than a day. Sometimes, if left untreated, it may last several months or even years. 10 most common causes of bad breath in adults:​


Unbrushed Teeth

The reasons why dentists recommend brushing teeth after every meal extend way beyond just keeping the teeth healthy. When we eat, most of the food remains to get caught on the surface of the teeth and in between individual teeth.


Brushing helps to clean off these food remains which, if left unremoved, may rot and result in bad breath.


Unflossed Teeth

Brushing alone does not remove all food particles caught in between the teeth. Only flossing can remove food particles that have been dislodged deep in between teeth.


As with the case above, if these food remains are left unremoved, they will rot and cause bad breath in both adults and children.


Mouth Infections

Several mouth infections have been known to cause bad breath in adults. A good example of such mouth infections is periodontal disease, also known as gum disease.



Respiratory Tract Infections

Other infections that occur deeper in the respiratory tract can also cause an odor that comes out as bad breath. Examples of these are sinus infections, throat infections and lung infections.



Foods Consumed

Some foods have naturally bad odors and, when consumed, transfer the same to the mouth, and this is manifested in the form of bad breath. Some examples of such foods include onions and garlic.

Foods Consumed



Chewing tobacco and smoking cigarettes both leave a bad smell in the mouth that can last for a while if the teeth are not brushed in time.



Systemic Illnesses

This refers to diseases that do not necessarily affect the respiratory tract or the mouth. Some of these diseases are still, however, responsible for causing bad breath in adults. The most common of these diseases include diabetes, lung disease, liver disease and kidney diseases.



Alcoholic Drinks

While it may not be apparent to a person who has consumed alcohol, the intake of alcoholic beverages, even wine, usually leaves behind a bad smell in the mouth that gets even worse the morning after if the teeth are not brushed.



Dry Mouth

A dry mouth can be caused directly by some factors. For instance, breathing through the mouth or consuming some types of medication may result in a dry mouth. A dry mouth, more often than not, usually results in bad breath.




Strictly speaking, this should not be classified as a direct cause of bad breath since it is not even real in the first place. It is only listed here because of its high prevalence.


Pseudohalitosis is a state where an individual thinks or believes, that he or she has bad breath while in an actual sense their breath is normal and they have no problem at all.

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