Those who suffer from halitosis – or bad breath – know that the condition can not only cause occasional embarrassment, but it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint the cause. Poor oral care is one likely culprit. When a person does not brush or floss regularly, stray food particles in the mouth may collect bacteria that results in a bad odor.

“Tongue bacteria produce malodorous compounds and fatty acids and account for 80 to 90 percent of all cases of bad breath,” Betsy Clark of the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine told Reuters Health. At the same time, the consumption of certain foods – particularly garlic and onions – may be to blame for an unpleasant mouth odor.

The smell may not disappear completely until the food is completely expelled from the body. And some people’s halitosis may be a result of dry mouth, which can occur when there are salivary gland problems or someone breathes with their mouth open. The American Dental Association recommends that people concerned about halitosis should visit a dentist to work out a treatment plan.