older adult man with bad breath

5 Reasons Why Older Adults Have Bad Breath

Did you ever wonder why Grandma always seemed to have less than pleasant breath when she pulled you in close? Or perhaps you’re an older adult suffering from bad breath. Bad breath, or halitosis, is very common among seniors and aging adults. Some causes can be treated at home, while others may need a bit of intervention from the dentist. Here are five main reasons older adults are more likely to have bad breath than others.

1. Dry Mouth

As we get older, we become prone to experiencing dry mouth due to dehydration. Dry mouth is when you have a decrease in saliva production. Lack of saliva allows food particles and bacteria to linger in your mouth and around the teeth and gums. This contributes to bad breath. In addition to dehydration, certain medications can cause dry mouth.

As we age, our sense of thirst begins to diminish. This is why it is important that we remember to drink lots of fluids throughout the day, especially during the hotter months.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of the most common causes of bad breath in older adults. GERD occurs when stomach acid flows upward into your food pipe or esophagus. This not only irritates the lining of your throat, but it leaves your mouth susceptible to potent acid and undigested food particles.

3. Alcohol and Tobacco Use

This definitely isn’t specific to older adults but continued use of alcohol and/or tobacco into our older years can have a lasting effect on our mouth and breath. People who drink and smoke cigarettes regularly often have a distinguished odor. Unfortunately, the smell doesn’t just linger on their clothes and skin; their breath falls victim as well. In addition, people who drink alcohol or smoke tobacco have a higher risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease and tooth decay both contribute to bad breath. And further exacerbating the issue, alcohol can cause you to have dry mouth, another culprit of bad breath.

4. Tonsil Stone

Your tonsils are part of your immune system, which helps to keep you healthy. Their main job is to filter and trap germs entering the body through your mouth and nose. However, sometimes, your tonsils can develop white or yellow patches as a result of them trying to do their job. Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are hard bits of bacteria and debris that get stuck in your tonsils. It can cause a sensation of something caught in your throat. Although tonsil stones are usually harmless and don’t require treatment, one of the symptoms is bad breath. Gargling with warm salt water can help to flush your tonsils and wash away the potent bacteria.


5. Denture Care

Dentures, in addition to other dental appliances, are often prone to accumulating bacteria. If not properly washed and maintained, especially after eating, bacteria and food debris can become lodged between dentures and appliances. In time, this debris begins to decompose and release an unpleasant odor, thus creating bad breath. Unfortunately, many seniors fail to take proper care of their dentures which is one reason many older adults have bad breath. Therefore, it is important to soak dentures or other types of removable dental appliances in cleaning solutions as directed by your dentist.

Freshen Your Breath With VIPcare Dental

Bad breath isn’t just an unpleasant symptom; it’s an incredibly embarrassing one. Fortunately, there are ways to combat bad breath in older adults. The main thing is first to determine why you have bad breath. Once you know the cause, you can then treat it appropriately. If you suffer from bad breath, schedule an appointment with a VIPcare dentist to discuss your concerns. Practicing good oral hygiene is essential to improving and preventing bad breath. Schedule an appointment today and take the necessary steps to freshen your breath.