Causes of Bad Breath

Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath is an unfortunately common problem for many people. In fact, the American Dental Association notes that 50% of Americans have struggled with bad breath. On its own, bad breath is harmless, however it can cause a variety of self-esteem and social problems. In some cases, bad breath can even be a symptom of an underlying oral health condition that can be problematic if not treated. Therefore, it is important to determine the cause of your bad breath so that you can address it. There are different causes of bad breath that can occur in people with or without dental implants, as well as a few that can specifically affect those with dental implants.

General causes of bad breath: 


The foods and beverages you consume on a daily basis directly affect the odor of your breath. There are also certain foods and beverages that have stronger odors than others, making them more likely to cause bad breath. Some of the most common culprits include coffee, wine, onions, and garlic. Onions and garlic are even absorbed into the stomach and passed through the respiratory system for up to 72 hours after their initial consumption. 

Poor Oral Hygiene

Not brushing twice a day and/or flossing daily can also lead to bad breath. This is because poor oral hygiene allows plaque to remain on the surface of the teeth. Since plaque is composed of bacteria and food particles, leaving it in place causes an odor to form. The more plaque that are left on the teeth, the stronger the odor. To prevent this, be sure to brush twice a day, floss daily, and visit your dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning. 

Dry Mouth

woman chewing gum

Saliva is the body’s natural way of keeping the mouth clean. However, some individuals cannot produce adequate amounts of saliva due to certain medications or medical conditions. Unfortunately, this lack of saliva means that bacteria can accumulate inside the mouth and cause odors to form. To manage  bad breath caused by dry mouth, it is recommended to increase saliva production by drinking water frequently, sucking on sugarless candies, and chewing gum. 

Certain Medical Conditions

There are also certain medical conditions that can cause bad breath to form, even if your teeth are clean. For example, any infection that affects the bronchial tubes, tonsils, nasal passage, or upper/lower respiratory system can cause bad breath. Additionally, chronic health problems like diabetes, kidney disease, and gastrointestinal reflux disorder (GERD) can also cause bad breath. 

Causes of Bad Breath Specific to Dental Implants: 

woman checking her breath

Trapped Food

Just as pieces of food can become trapped in your teeth, it can also become trapped in your dental implants. While dental implants won’t decay like natural teeth, leaving food trapped underneath can irritate the gums and lead to gum disease. Trapped food particles can also create a strong, unpleasant odor. For these reasons, it is important to make sure you are properly flossing around and under your dental implant.

Plaque Build Up

Dental plaque can accumulate on your dental implant just like it would on natural teeth. As mentioned before, plaque is composed of bacteria and food particles. This combination creates a foul odor that will continue to get worse as more plaque builds up on the implant. Not only does this cause bad breath, but it also leads to gum disease. 


In some cases, bad breath can mean that your dental implant is infected. Dental implant infections are rare, however they can occur in cases where the implant has become loose and has allowed bacteria to grow inside. If you suspect your bad breath is due to an infection, it is important to schedule an appointment with your implant dentist immediately. 

Dr. Irfan Atcha, DDS

Irfan Atcha, DDS, DICOI, DADIA at New Teeth Chicago Dental in Chicago, Illinois is a board-certified general dentist and a nationally recognized expert in dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, and sedation dentistry.

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Dr. Atcha has over 25 years of experience and has successfully surgically placed and restored well over 15,000 dental implant cases over the course of his 25 years of experience. 

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