Dehydration is the leading cause of bad breath other than poor dental hygiene, according to the Mayo Clinic. Not drinking enough water means food (and the bacteria that feed on it) hangs out in your mouth longer, breeding and heightening the stench. Fortunately the fix is as simple as the problem: Drink up! Plain H2O is best, but doctors add that sugar-free gum or candies can also help stimulate saliva flow.
You have a serious illness
Bad breath may smell equally stinky to our untrained noses but according to researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder, not all bad breath is created equally—and the presence of certain, ahem, gasses in your mouth can indicate disease. For instance, excess methylamine may signal liver and kidney disease, ammonia may be a sign of renal failure, elevated acetone levels can indicate diabetes, and nitric oxide levels can be used to diagnose asthma, according to the scientists. A separate study found that a certain mix of bad breath gasses can even indicate malignant throat cancer. You can’t tell just from a sniff test but if you have chronic bad breath it might be worth getting a more sensitive test done in your doctor’s office. Here are some more silent warning signs of kidney disease.