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Can Dehydration Be the Cause of Bad Breath?


Nothing ruins a moment like bad breath. The good news is that there are ways to get rid of this frustrating problem — but the bad news is that it’s not always easy to identify the cause of bad breath, which can include all kinds of oral health and hygiene issues. In fact, even dehydration may contribute to that unpleasant breath odor.

Causes of bad breath can include gastroesophageal reflux diseases (GERD), oral hygiene issues, gum disease, infections or more. Let’s take a closer look at this frustrating issue and how drinking more water might just be the easiest solution.

What is Bad Breath?

Most people have experienced occasional morning breath or an embarrassing breath odor after eating garlic; after all, you can’t have fresh breath all the time. However, if you frequently deal with this issue, you might be one of the 25% of people worldwide who have halitosis — the medical term for chronic bad breath.

List of the causes of bad breathThis issue is sometimes difficult to identify. Here’s a rule of thumb: If you have an unpleasant taste in your mouth, you likely have bad breath to go along with it. 

Some causes of halitosis can be handled by a dentist or even an improved oral health routine, but others are more complicated to deal with — and to identify. Here are just a few things that could lead to chronic bad breath:


If you have an infection in your sinuses or throat, some symptoms — like coughing up phlegm — can cause your breath to smell unpleasant. 


Some cancers, especially those that affect your head or neck, can cause sores and other issues that lead to bad breath.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

This digestive disorder causes stomach acid to leak into your esophagus, causing feelings similar to acid reflux or heartburn. GERD can also cause bad breath.

Tonsil Stones

Tonsil stones are small calcium deposits stuck in the back of your throat. These stones can be uncomfortable and might lead to an unpleasant breath odor.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, is caused by plaque, which builds up on each tooth as a result of poor oral hygiene. It can be prevented and sometimes treated by taking good care of your teeth, tongue and gums. A dentist can often diagnose gum disease based on a combination of bad breath, swelling, minor tooth decay and other oral health issues.

Oral Hygiene

Even if you don’t have gum disease, you can still have mouth issues that lead to bad breath. For example, forgetting to brush your tongue can cause a buildup of plaque or bacteria that might cause breath odors.

Dry Mouth

If your body isn’t producing enough saliva, look to your lifestyle for potential causes. Smoking, tobacco use and certain medications can all lead to dry mouth, but one of the most common culprits is dehydration.

How Dehydration Causes Bad Breath

Water contributes to wellness in big ways — and oral health is no exception. As it turns out, dehydration can cause bad breath in more than one way.

Let’s take a closer look at this relationship:

  • Saliva production: If you don’t have enough water in your body to produce a healthy amount of saliva, you could end up with a dry mouth. This, in turn, gives bacteria the chance to stick around and develop unpleasant odors on your tongue or teeth.
  • Regular rinsing: Every time you take a drink of water, you’re doing your oral health a favor. That’s because water, like saliva, helps wash away bacteria and food particles.
  • Health issues: Because proper hydration keeps you healthy and helps support your immune system, dehydration might make you more vulnerable to certain health issues. If you do get sick, the resulting symptoms could be the cause of bad breath.

It’s clear that dehydration leads to halitosis — but what else do you need to know? How can you catch and address dehydration before it sabotages your fresh breath? Here are a few key details to keep in mind:

What Causes Dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when you don’t drink enough water to replace your body’s fluids. You lose water through sweating, crying, breathing and more — and if you don’t drink enough water throughout the day, these natural functions will lead to dehydration.

The most common cause of dehydration is simply not drinking enough. However, other things can cause you to lose more fluids than usual, like working out in hot weather or contracting a stomach bug; in addition, certain people — like the elderly or those with diabetes — might be more vulnerable to dehydration. 

What Are the Other Symptoms of Dehydration?

While halitosis might be an indirect symptom of dehydration, there are other things to look out for, including:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Dry eyes
  • Reduced urination

How Is Dehydration Treated?

The good news is that you can often treat dehydration with a big glass of water. If you get into the habit of drinking throughout the day, you can replace your body’s fluids and prevent this issue in the future.

However, it may be necessary to visit your doctor in more severe cases of dehydration or if you have underlying conditions.

How to Fix Bad Breath

There are plenty of things that may be responsible for halitosis, including dehydration — but what can you do about it? Here are a few tips for fixing chronic bad breath:

Improve Your Water Quality

If you want to drink enough to prevent dehydration and keep your breath smelling fresh, you need to make sure your home’s water quality is reliable. The first step is to have an in-home water test and consultation, which will tell you why you may have unpleasant tastes, odors or colors in your water — all things that can cause you to drink less. These test results can also tell you about things you might not otherwise notice, like imbalanced pH or high chlorine levels.

Next, you’ll want to choose a drinking water filtration system to address these issues and improve your water quality. That way, healthy hydration can be as easy as turning on the tap.

Pay Attention to Your Dental Health

A dry mouth can sometimes lead to gum disease, tooth decay and other problems. That’s why paying attention to your oral health is important, especially if you suspect you’re dehydrated. Brush, floss, use mouthwash and remember to visit your dentist regularly for help achieving fresh breath.

Look At Your Overall Health

Like hydration, oral health plays a big role in your overall wellness. Bad breath could be a sign of underlying conditions, like GERD or even some cancers. If you find these root issues, you can get help treating them and improve your breath in the process.

See What Better Water Can Do

Don’t let bad breath ruin another moment. Instead, start your journey to fresh breath by taking a closer look at your hydration habits. If you find that you’re not drinking enough because your home’s water quality isn’t where it should be, you know what needs to be done. 

Schedule your free, in-home water test and consultation to see for yourself what better water can do.

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