Can Stress Cause Bad Breath?

Reviewed on 3/10/2021

Bad breath (halitosis) is an embarrassing problem of undesirable odor coming from the mouth. Bad breath (halitosis) is an embarrassing problem of undesirable odor coming from the mouth. Causes of bad breath include bacteria in the mouth, dry mouth, gum disease, medical conditions, food, smoking, and stress.
Bad breath (halitosis) is an embarrassing problem of undesirable odor coming from the mouth. Causes of bad breath include bacteria in the mouth, dry mouth, gum disease, medical conditions, food, smoking, and stress.

There are numerous causes of bad breath. Many causes are harmless, but some conditions that can cause bad breath can be serious. Causes of bad breath include: 

Stress can also cause bad breath for a number of reasons: 

  • Dry mouth
    • When people are stressed, their mouth often gets dry 
    • Alcohol and caffeine — which people may consume when stressed — are diuretics that can contribute to dry mouth
    • Without adequate saliva, bacteria can build up
  • Poor eating
    • When people are stressed, they may eat foods that can cause bad breath (foods high in sugar can cause bad breath)
  • Smoking and tobacco use
    • When people are stressed, they may tend to smoke or use tobacco, which can also cause bad breath and oral health problems
  • Acid reflux
    • Stress can aggravate GERD, which can result in bad breath

What Is Bad Breath?

Bad breath (halitosis) is an embarrassing problem of undesirable odor coming from the mouth. An estimated 65% of Americans have had bad breath and many people are not aware they have it.

What Are Symptoms of Bad Breath?

The main symptom of bad breath is an unpleasant or foul smell emanating from the mouth. 

Symptoms that may accompany bad breath include: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Unpleasant taste in mouth
  • Coating on the tongue

How Is Bad Breath Diagnosed?

Bad breath is often evaluated by a dentist. In addition to patient history and physical examination of the mouth, tests may be needed to diagnose the cause of bad breath, such as: 

  • Organoleptic testing: assesses the strength of bad breath 
  • Sulfide monitors to measure mouth-air volatile sulfur compound (VSC) content, which are produced by anaerobic bacteria from food debris in the mouth that cause bad breath
  • Gas chromatography to measure VSCs
  • X-rays of the mouth
  • Periodontal charting if gum disease is suspected

Other tests may be indicated depending on the suspected cause. 

What Is the Treatment for Bad Breath?

The main treatment for bad breath is good oral hygiene. 

  • Brush and floss twice daily
  • Mouthwash 
    • Can help kill bacteria or neutralize and mask bad breath
    • Mouthwash is only a temporary solution
  • Clean dentures regularly and thoroughly
  • Keep saliva flowing
    • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy
    • Eat healthy foods that require a lot of chewing, such as carrots or apples
    • Use artificial saliva if your dentist recommends it 
  • Don’t smoke
  • See your dentist regularly

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Reviewed on 3/10/2021
References
https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/bad-breath

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/bad-breath?search=bad%20breath&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1#H2120250223

https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/oral-health/6-surprising-causes-of-bad-breath#:~:text=A%20diet%20very%20high%20in,unpleasant%20odor%20from%20your%20mouth.&text=There%20are%20many%20types%20of,turn%20leads%20to%20bad%20breath