Oral health: Tonsil stones, GERD, or certain medications can cause bad breath

Children's Oral Health

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Bad Breath is said to affect more than 50 percent of the general population. “Bad breath is caused by bacteria in the mouth, which is why it typically arises from poor oral hygiene,” says Doctor Lea Q. Lisowski. “However, in some instances, it can be caused by underlying medical conditions or lifestyle choices, ranging from a virus to the ketogenic diet.”

Five surprising reasons for your bad breath may include:

  • Tonsil stones
  • Tonsil stones can cause bad breath though they’re usually not painful or harmful.
  • They’re also called tonsilliths.
  • You can usually treat tonsil stones at home.
  • But in some cases, you may need surgery to remove the tonsils.

Sinusitis and post-nasal drip

Swollen sinus and nasal passages create both dry mouth and postnasal drip conditions, along with the added effect that “lumps” of bacterial colonies are hiding out inside your sinuses.

These colonies exacerbate bad breath and make it hard to combat, even after addressing symptoms like postnasal drip.

Drinking plenty of water helps thin out the mucus build up in your sinuses, making it easier to drain.

Frequent gargling with warm water and salt as well as tongue scraping also help prevent bad breath.

Foods and drinks

Onions and garlic are probably the most common and most well-known instigators of bad breath.

Other foods and drinks which may be increasing your bad breath include:

  • Teas and coffees
  • Alcohol
  • Protein
  • Canned fish
  • Sugar
  • Acidic foods.


GERD is a chronic condition marked by persistent acid reflux, or the rise of stomach acid in the oesophagus.

The misplaced stomach acid may be the cause for unexplained bad breath but is often paired with other symptoms.

If you tend to have heartburn or reflux, your bad breath could be related to the excess acid produced by your digestive tract.

Those acids can have a sour odour, affecting your breath.


Many medicines are associated with bad breath, usually because they dry out the mouth.

Offenders include antihistamines, sedatives, amphetamines, antidepressants, diuretics, decongestants, anticholinergics and some antipsychotics.

Certain vitamin supplements (especially in high doses) are also culprits.

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