No one’s immune to the occasional bout of bad breath. But garlic bread and strong coffee aren’t the only culprits.
In fact, one of the most common causes of halitosis is dry mouth, or xerostomia. If you’re not drinking enough water and staying hydrated, the bacteria that grow on your teeth and gums won’t get washed away. The evidence will be on your breath.
“Drinking enough water isn’t just good for your body, it’s also good for your teeth,” said dentist Kim Harms, consumer advisor spokesman for the American Dental Association.
Check out these other causes—and solutions—so you can breathe easier (and sweeter).
Surprising cause: Poor oral hygiene. You brush your teeth twice a day, but that might not be enough to sweep away that halitosis-causing bacteria.
Simple solution: Floss at least once a day to get food out from between your teeth. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, too—get back in there as far as you can—or use a tongue scraper. If you have a sensitive gag reflex, look for one of the new small brushes designed to minimize the sensation.
Surprising cause: Medication. Certain medications can cause you to have dry mouth, which in turn, causes bad breath. One of the biggest offenders? Antihistamines.
Simple solution: Guzzle more water to keep your mouth hydrated. And consult your doctor for recommendations for drugs without this particular side effect.
Surprising cause: Post-nasal drip. The flow of mucus from your nasal passages and sinuses can harbor foul-smelling bacteria.
Simple solution: Check with your doctor about the best way to treat the sinus infection. Some over-the-counter meds can dry up the mucus causing the drip, but be cautious: Some lead to dry mouth, which leads to . . . you guessed it.
Surprising cause: Tonsil stones. Sulfurous bad breath that won’t go away could be the result of tonsilloliths, or globs of minerals, bacteria and mucus that have calcified in the pockets and folds of your tonsils.
Simple solution: Try using a combination of oxygenated tablets and nasal sinus drops, and follow up with oxygenated toothpaste and mouthwash. Some experts will suggest surgery to remove the tonsils if the problem persists.
Surprising cause: Low-carb diet. Your body burns fat in a process called ketosis when it doesn’t get enough carbs, which causes unpleasant odors in your breath.
Simple solution: Don’t give up the pasta and bread altogether. Eat whole grains as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Surprising cause: GERD. If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you might notice the effect of the reflux on your breath.
Simple solution: Antacids can temporarily help, but you may need to take a prescription medication, like a proton-pump inhibitor, or OTC meds like an H2 antagonist.