10 Surprising Habits That Make Your Breath Smell Bad

Everyone occasionally has bad breath, but if you find that you constantly need to be popping a breath mint, you might be doing a few things wrong. Although a meal filled with garlic and onions can definitely do the trick, you may also be engaging in a number of habits that make your breath smell bad. Paying attention to these habits, both oral and otherwise, can make the difference in your mouth's natural scent, and you'll no longer have to worry about getting too close to the person you're talking to or keeping a mountain of breath mints in your purse.

"There are many causes of bad breath, but the most common causes are due to bacteria producing a foul smell," says dentist Dr. Frank Farrelly over email. "This can come from the oral cavity, the sinus, the nose, the throat or the stomach."

Bad breath isn't exactly rare, as it's estimated that 50 percent of the adult population has it, according to Colgate. Where it begins is what differs from person to person, but picking up on the right habits can help you avoid that smelly fate. If you frequently have bad breath, you might want to consider ditching some of these ten surprising habits that could make your breath smell less than ideal.

1. Drinking Alcohol

Drinking alcohol dehydrates you and dries out your mouth, which leads to a reduction in saliva production, according to Livestrong. That lack of saliva cleaning out your mouth leads to more bacteria production, which causes bad breath.

2. Using Too Much Mouthwash

Unfortunately, mouthwash just masks bad breath, not solves it. "Also, mouthwashes with alcohol can kill too many bacteria in your mouth, which causes your mouth to overcompensate by repopulating more bad breath-causing bacteria than you started with," says dentist Dr. Kyle Stanley over email.

3. Eating Too Many Mints

Mints are great when you need a quick solution, but they can eventually worsen the problem. "Although mints can mask halitosis temporarily, research from the American Chemical Society has shown in a study that this is only a temporary fix, and the sugar in mints can actually feed the bacteria that causes bad breath," says Stanley.

4. Breathing Through Your Mouth

"Breathing through your mouth contributes to dry mouth and bad breath, so make it a habit to breathe through your nose as much as possible," says Stanley. "Breathing through your mouth, especially when you sleep, dries the mouth and tongue which allows bacteria to form which can cause bad breath."

5. Not Flossing

We all know it's a pain in the butt, but flossing is important, not only for the health of your teeth, but for the smell of your breath. "If you ever want motivation to floss, simply floss one tooth and take a sniff of the floss," says Farrelly. "The bad smell is the bacteria between your teeth that brushing alone will not remove."

6. Using An Old Toothbrush

Make sure you're replacing your toothbrush frequently and that you're using a high-quality brush. "Old splintered bristles not only can be less effective at removing plaque that houses bacteria, but they may also be a breeding ground for bacteria by itself," says dentist Dr. Sam Weisz over email.

7. Medications

Certain medications can cause a dry mouth, which leads to bad breath, according to WebMD. Many popular medications list “dry mouth, bad breath, or taste disorders” as a side effect, so consult with your doctor if you think your pills are causing that rancid odor.

8. Not Staying Hydrated

Be sure to drink up — with water, that is. "When your mouth is dry, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria to thrive," says Stanley. "Xerostomia (the medical term for dry mouth) is the leading cause of bad breath. By staying hydrated you will replenish your saliva and keep away bad breath-causing bacteria."

9. Skipping A Meal

If you're skipping out on dinner before meeting up with a date to prevent stinky breath, you might want to think again. Skipping a meal can lead to unpleasant "fruity" breath from ketoacidosis, the breakdown of body chemicals when you fast or skip meals, according to Colgate.

10. Smoking

That cigarette is damaging more than just your lungs. "We all know of the smoky tobacco smell, but it also causes periodontitis (gum disease), and this causes a foul breath, even after the smoky smell has dissipated," says Farrelly.

No one wants smelly breath, but fixing the problem could be as simple as adjusting your habits – so why not give it a try?

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