Bad breath causes

Last Updated August 2021

When a regular routine of brushing, flossing and rinsing isn’t enough to combat your bad breath, it could be time to ask yourself some tough questions regarding your lifestyle and habits.

How’s Your Diet?

The natural bacteria in your mouth absolutely love turning sweet treats into unpleasant smells, and acidic foods create an optimum environment for these bacteria to carry on growing. Without carbohydrates, your body starts breaking down other fats and proteins for energy, producing an odorous breath that isn’t fresh.

Your best bet? Aim for a balanced, healthy diet with adequate amounts of fruits and veggies like red bell pepper, broccoli and crunchy veg as they help loosen trapped food particles.

How Often Do You Drink Alcohol?

The more often you raise your glass, the more you raise your chances of bad breath. That’s because alcohol not only causes dry mouth, it can allow bacteria to linger after you finish drinking.

Are You Coffee Crazy?

Coffee may be your morning treat, but the caffeine in coffee reduces saliva production in your mouth. Less saliva means an increase in bad breath-causing bacteria. It also means any food particles that may linger from your last meal start to break down inside your mouth. Make sure to brush and/or use LISTERINE® afterwards.


People are often quick to blame bad breath on the usual suspects like onions, garlic and coffee. But sometimes these are not the culprits. In fact, they’re not even necessarily food-related. Take a look at some not-so-obvious sources of bad breath:


Because diabetes causes your blood-sugar levels to fluctuate, it can also leave your mouth vulnerable to bad breath-causing periodontal diseases. The extra glucose on your teeth and gums increases bacteria, which can lead to gum disease.


Certain medications including antihistamines and antidepressants, can cause xerostomia, or dry mouth. Dry mouth, because of its penchant for bringing saliva production to a halt, is a well-known contributor to bad breath.


Xerostomia, otherwise known as dry mouth, usually occurs when the production of saliva slows down, and in persistent cases, it can also lead to bad breath. Why? The natural saliva that has so mysteriously seemed to vanish has a job to do: flushing bacteria and leftover food particles from your mouth. Without saliva to flush them away, the bacteria starts to build up, creating an unpleasant odour.


Brushing, flossing and rinsing are all great ways to keep your mouth healthy and clean. But for all your defensive manoeuvring your breath will, from time to time, still get a little unpleasant. Not to worry though. Here’s a look at some of the key offenders:

#1: Garlic

Garlic is absorbed into your bloodstream, enabling a wave of odour to make its way into your lungs, where it can freely escape through the mouth. None of this, however, should be reason to swear off garlic completely. Just try not to overdo it and, when you’re finished, flush your mouth of garlic residue by brushing and flossing and remember to rinse with LISTERINE® mouthwash twice daily.

#2: Onions

Like garlic, the odour of onions lingers long after you’ve finished eating them. That’s because they both contain sulphuric compounds that get absorbed into your bloodstream and return when you least expect it. Give yourself an extra layer of protection by brushing, flossing and rinsing.

#3: Acidic Foods

The bacteria that cause bad breath thrive on the acidic environment resulting from low pH foods such as lemons, oranges and tomatoes. It is therefore important to eat such foods in moderation.

When a regular routine of brushing, flossing and rinsing isn’t enough to combat your bad breath, it could be time to ask yourself some tough questions regarding your lifestyle and habits.


What Habits Can Cause Bad Breath?

When it comes to habits that can cause bad breath, few rank higher than tobacco use. Just the act of smoking alone, not to mention the associated health risks. Having a high-sugar diet doesn’t help either; the natural bacteria in your mouth will feast on the excess sugars and redecorate your teeth and gums with bacteria build-up. Low-calorie diets encourage rapid breakdown of body fat, resulting in ketoacidosis, a condition that gives breath a fruity smell. People who skip meals regularly run a different kind of risk: chewing helps stimulate saliva, which helps prevent your mouth from getting dry and smelling stale. Dry mouth also affects people who regularly breathe through their mouths, putting them in the unenviable position of having bad breath. Finally, people who are overstressed can wind up having unpleasant breath.