Bad breath gets worse with poor dental hygiene, a common problem in spite of the presence of several brands of toothpastes and mouthwashes. Millions of people around the world have bad teeth due to a poor diet and bad dental practices. Bad breath that emanates from the mouth may be caused by periodontitis, denture problems, tongue disorders or tooth decay.

For others, bad breath is a product of what they eat. Gorging on garlic and onions is a sure way of polluting your mouth. The foul odor that comes from this practice emanates in the gastrointestinal tract and may persist for hours.

"Other vegetables and spices may also cause bad breath. After this food is dissolved in your stomach and small intestine and the volatile substances are absorbed into your bloodstream, they are carried to your lungs and are given off in your breath,” according to Dr. David E. Larson, editor-in-chief of the “Mayo Clinic Family Health Book.”

“Alcohol behaves in the same fashion, thus allowing measurement of blood alcohol levels by tests of breath. Alcohol itself has almost no odor, however. The characteristic smell in the breath is mainly the odor of other components of the beverage,” Larson added.

For those who don't drink and smoke, have perfect teeth yet still have bad breath, the source of the problem lies elsewhere. A number of diseases are characterized by halitosis. These include postnasal drip, tonsillitis, adenoids and cirrhosis of the liver often accompanied by a persistent cough with bad-smelling sputum. Such is the case in bronchiectasis, lung abscess, tuberculosis, bronchitis and lung cancer.

"There are several general health problems that can cause a distinctive odor to the breath. Kidney failure can cause a urine-like odor; liver failure may cause an odor sometimes described as 'fishy.' Acetone in the breath causes a fruity odor and may occur in diabetics who are developing ketoacidosis or commonly in children with childhood illnesses who have eaten poorly for several days," Larson explained.

Children may also have bad breath but the problem is usually not as serious as in adults. In most instances, the foul breath will clear up on its own.

"Otherwise healthy children with 'offensive' breath should have their teeth, gums, nose and sinuses examined. If no foreign body is seen in the nasal passages and no foul debris between the teeth, and if there are no signs of nasal allergy, gum infection or sinusitis, I would advise less garlic and onions," said Dr. Gilbert Simon and Marcia Cohen in “The Parents' Pediatric Companion.” (Next: Are mouthwashes effective?)

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Author's Bio: 

Sharon Bell is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premier online news magazine