What Causes Bad Breath?
It’s our worst fear on a date or at a job interview. We’re self-conscious about it constantly, but checking it in it of itself is embarrassing. We endure it every morning, and we spend loads of money trying to avoid it. It’s one part of living we all try to avoid, but for some of us, it becomes a chronic problem. It’s bad breath, and as much as we all wish we could live without us, it’s just a part of life.
But how do we know when it’s gone from morning breath to an illness? And how to we treat it?
If you’re suffering from chronic bad breath (also called halitosis), take heart: You’re not alone. Nearly 1 out of 4 people globally experience the same thing. It’s very common, but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing.
Halitosis is often hard to identify. After all, we rarely smell our own breath. Sometimes it actually falls to our friends to sheepishly offer us a stick of gum. If you do know there’s a problem, it’s important to first identify where the problem comes from.
The most common cause of bad breath is just poor oral hygiene. Perhaps you haven’t been brushing your teeth enough or have been neglecting flossing. When you don’t clean your mouth frequently or thoroughly enough, food particles left between your teeth can form bacteria and cause odor. Plaque can eventually form on your teeth which irritates your gums. Pockets of plaque can form between your teeth and gums; this is a condition called periodontitis.
The tongue can also trap bacteria and cause odors. Likewise, if you wear dentures and don’t clean them regularly, bacteria can form and cause bad breath.
Eating smelly foods like garlic and onions can exacerbate bad breath. As we eat food, it’s digested and enters our bloodstream. Particles that enter our bloodstream will eventually enter our lungs, causing bad breath. In other words, you’ll be breathing out garlic, which can be a bit harsh.
While food may be the most common cause of bad breath, a few other lifestyle habits can also induce bad breath.
Tobacco and alcohol consumption can cause bad breath, as this may decay teeth. Smoking can cause gum disease as well, which is a notorious cause of bad breath. Even crash diets can be the culprit, as ketones can build up.
Every wonder why breath is especially poor in the morning? Dry mouth is a prime culprit of bad breath. Especially when we sleep with our mouths open, the saliva in our mouths dry up. Saliva cleanses our mouths, preventing odors. So when there’s no saliva, nothing prevents our mouths from forming smelling bacteria.
Chronic dry mouth could be caused by an issue with the salivary glands.
Some medications can indirectly lead to bad breath, as dry mouth is a common symptom of some prescription drugs.
In rare cases, bad breath could be an indicator of a much more serious condition. Certain cancers, metabolic disorders, or the chronic reflux of stomach acids can cause bad breath. However, don’t assume you have cancer just because you need to use mouthwash more than your friends – again, nearly 25 percent of the global population suffers from halitosis.
If you’re suffering from bad breath, you can make a handful of lifestyle changes to try to alleviate it. You can practice better oral health (brushing after every meal, including your tongue, flossing, and using mouthwash), give up smoking or drinking, or change your prescriptions. Even just drinking water more frequently can help with bad breath – bring a water bottle with you everywhere you go to stay hydrated.
However, if the problem is chronic, minty gum or mouthwash will only mask the problem. The best way to be sure the problem is solved is to visit a dental specialist. They’ll look out for more serious problems, should they arise.
At Paradigm Dental, our commitment to your well-being includes ensuring you’re confident about your oral health. If you’re concerned about bad breath, make an appointment to see if any medical issues need to be addressed. No one should have to be self-conscious about smiling or laughing!