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What Your Bad Breath Really Means

July 17, 2017
Posted By: Dr. Russell D. Mann

Bad breath, known to professionals as halitosis, is probably something you don’t think much of. Just pop a breath mint and you’re good to go, right? Well, it might not be that simple. Sure, everyone’s breath gets a little stinky at times, especially if you haven’t brushed your teeth for a while. However, recurring and persistent bad breath can be a sign that something is wrong. Here are a few common conditions that could be causing your mouth to smell less than desirable.

Eating Stinky Foods

Mmm, there’s nothing much tastier than a big bowl of garlic soup, right? Unfortunately, your breath disagrees. Foods like fish, onions, and garlic have potent odors that are resistant to brushing and mouthwash. Therefore, if you’ve recently eaten these foods, expect their smells to linger until the meal has completely passed through your system.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition that results in a lack of saliva. When you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth, bacteria and other particles can accumulate, giving off a foul odor. This is particularly common when you wake up in the morning, as saliva production is naturally slowed while you’re sleeping. It could also be due to a problem with your salivary glands, so it’s important to get checked.

Stomach Cancer

Luckily, it’s very unlikely that stomach cancer is the source of your bad breath. However, scientists have recently identified certain compounds that can be found in the breath of stomach cancer patients. In fact, in one study, scientists were able to accurately determine the stage of stomach cancer just based on a breath analysis.

Kidney Problems

Because the kidneys are a vital part of removing toxins from your blood. When they start failing, you’ll begin to have a buildup of toxic chemicals throughout your body. In particular, this will manifest in your mouth, as your breath may begin to give off a fishy, ammonia, or urine odor.

Heart Failure

Similar to stomach cancer, heart failure patients have certain compounds in their breath that signal their heart isn’t working properly. In one study that looked at 41 patients, a breath test was able to accurately diagnose 25 of these patients with heart failure and 16 with other cardiovascular conditions.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease is when your stomach has problems processing certain kinds of food. Often, what you’ve eaten sits around in your stomach where it begins to decay. The smell from this food can easily waft back up into your mouth and create bad breath. In some cases, you might even burp up small bits of old food, which will only increase your bad breath.


Water is essential for keeping your body running smoothly. If you don’t drink enough water, your mouth might dry out and become a breeding ground for nasty, foul-smelling bacteria.

Gum Disease and Poor Oral Hygiene

This is kind of obvious, but if you aren’t brushing your teeth, you could develop gingivitis and tooth decay. Both of these problems smell gross and will be easily identified by a dentist.

If you want to know for sure where your bad breath is coming from, your best bet is to pay a visit to our office. Call us today to make an appointment.

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