Dehydration is one of the leading bad breath causes, 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. The presence of certain, ahem, gasses in your mouth can indicate serious diseases that are also bad breath causes. 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. These are the 13 silent signs of oral cancer you should never ignore.
You’re exercising outdoors too much
Athletes have a higher proportion of breathing problems than the average population, according to a surprising study published by the European Respiratory Society. Of people who exercised outdoors, about one in ten experienced some type of breathing problem like asthma, wheezing, and dry mouth, with cyclists being the most affected―nearly 50 percent! The problem, according to the researchers, is the outdoor air, one of the more surprising bad breath causes. While a breath of fresh air is certainly good for you, too much cold air in the winter dries out your mouth, and in warmer months, pollen and pollution wreak havoc. The end result can be bad breath related to allergies, nasal drainage, or chronic dry mouth. This doesn’t mean you should quit exercising—far from it!—but rather that you might want to limit your time exercising outdoors when it’s very cold, during allergy season, or in polluted areas.