Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common problem experienced by patients. Its causes can vary from something as simple as diet to signs of a much larger issue, such as infection or gum disease.
Most grocery and convenience stores are full of various gums or mints that simply mask bad breath. However, it is important to find the cause of bad breath rather than to cover the symptoms.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of bad breath. Complete and thorough cleaning of your mouth daily is vital to keeping your mouth fresh and free of harmful bacteria. Without proper brushing and flossing, food particles can remain on your teeth and uneven surfaces like your tongue and tonsils.
It is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day along with daily flossing. In order to get a thorough clean, you should scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper to remove the food particles left behind from your toothbrush.
Plaque, a sticky film that can build up on your teeth, will cause more severe issues with your teeth if not adequately cleaned. Gum disease, or periodontitis, and cavities can form and cause more significant problems. Regular dental checkups are important to maintaining good oral hygiene.
Diet can be a significant factor in bad breath. Consuming flavorful or sugary foods and drinks can impact the smell of your breath.
Onions, garlic, and other intense spices will break down and enter your bloodstream after digestion. This will affect your breath until the food completely leaves your system.
Foods with high levels of sugar can impact your breath as well. The bacteria that are already in your mouth feed on the sugar, which can turn into a sour smell.
While coffee and alcohol have strong odors that can stay on your breath, they also cause a decrease in saliva production. As your saliva production decreases, the production of odor-causing bacteria increases. A balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables is one way to keep your breath fresh.
Saliva is critical to keeping your mouth healthy and clean. Certain medications, age, inadequate hydration, or consuming various foods and drinks can cause dry mouth, which is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. These bacteria can lead to bad breath.
Increasing your water intake can help you stay hydrated and increase your saliva production. Your doctor may suggest avoiding caffeine and alcohol, or they might recommend oral rinses designed to help with dry mouth.
Tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, etc., have a strong odor all on their own, which can affect your breath negatively even with the use of gum or mints. These types of products increase the risk of gum disease, which is another source of bad breath.
Bad breath can be a symptom of more serious health conditions. Some gastric diseases, diabetes, liver or kidney issues, metabolic disorders, or certain cancers can all cause bad breath. If you still have bad breath after implementing better oral hygiene and lifestyle changes, consult your dentist or doctor immediately.