Pee-Yew! 6 Surprising Causes of Bad Breath

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Jan 30, 2018 | Last Updated: Dec 17, 2018

Bad breath, scientifically know as halitosis, is a frustrating condition many people are forced to deal with at some point in life. Although the most obvious cause of bad breath is poor dental hygiene, even those who brush and floss regularly can suffer from halitosis due to other reasons. Here are just a few of the surprising causes of bad breath:

Pee-Yew! 6 Surprising Causes of Bad Breath

Dry Mouth

Saliva is responsible for flushing bacteria out of our mouths. When we sleep, our salivary glands reduce their output, causing our mouths to dry out. This is why most cases of bad breath occur in the morning. Unfortunately, a good night of sleep isn’t the only cause of dry mouth and subsequent bad breath. Many medications like antidepressants, antibiotics, diuretics and antihistamines can also lead to dry mouth. Other conditions like sleep apnea, asthma and snoring, which lead sufferers to breathe out of their mouths, are common culprits as well.

Low-Carb Diet

although a low-carb diet can lead to weight loss, it can also cause bad breath. When the body is deprived of carbohydrates, it turns to fat and protein for energy. The process of burning fat, called “ketosis”, causes the body to produce chemicals known as “ketones”, which happen to have a unpleasant, sickly sweet smell. Sadly, there is no way to get rid of the odor caused by ketosis. Carbohydrates, like all foods, are best eaten in moderation.


Many common illnesses like colds, upper respiratory tract infections and bronchitis can cause bad breath. These types of illnesses break down tissues and produce nasal secretions like mucus, which bacteria feed on, in turn causing an unpleasant smell. Kidney problems cause a fishy smell, while uncontrolled diabetes causes a sweet, fruity smell. Chronic acid reflux can also cause halitosis because stomach acids are constantly being refluxed.


According to research conducted at Tel Aviv University, those with obesity are more likely to suffer from halitosis. Certain organisms, which may even be a contributing factor to obesity, reside in the gut of obese people and those who are overweight more commonly than in those with a healthy weight. These organisms produce a certain gas that causes bad breath.

Tonsil Stones

Tonsillolith, also called tonsil stones, are small, whitish clusters composed of calcified material that gets stuck in the tonsils. If you suffer from tonsillolith, you might find yourself spitting out tonsil stones now and then. You need not worry about your health, but you might not enjoy the halitosis this occurrence causes.

Gastrointestinal Disorder

According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology in 2008, the same infection that causes gastric cancer and peptic ulcers may cause halitosis. The helicobacter pylori infection was present in 87% of those suffering from bad breath.

Although some causes of bad breath are uncontrollable, there are steps you can take to minimize your oral odor. An established dental clinic like Kemper Pond Dental can screen you for other common causes of halitosis like cavities, gum disease, and cracked fillings.

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