Bad breath is embarrassing and worrisome. For most of us, it’s temporary. But for 25% of the population, it’s a chronic problem that can cause significant stress. That is why bad breath, also called halitosis, is one of the most common reasons why people seek dental care. While in most cases, bad breath can be easily treated, it can also be a sign of a more serious problem. That’s why it’s helpful to know some of the causes of bad breath.
The best way to eliminate your bad breath is to understand what is causing it. So, here are common reasons:
Poor Home Care
The primary cause is mouth bacteria. This is the most common because we all have mouth bacteria that can cause bad breath. When we practice good oral home care daily, we remove that bacteria. So, when we aren’t the best brushers or flossers, all that leftover bacteria produces a foul smell, halitosis.
Poor home care can also lead to tooth decay, which is a tooth infection that can contribute to chronic mouth odors that will not go away until your teeth are repaired.
Do you brush your teeth and still feel like you have bad breath shortly after? Your bad breath may be a sign of gum disease! Harmful mouth bacteria can cause a chronic infection called periodontal disease. When you have gum disease, you cannot just brush and floss the bacteria from your mouth because it is hiding under your gums where you can no longer reach. Until you treat the gum infection, your smelly breath will continue. The best way to treat gum disease is with periodontal treatment.
If your mouth always seems to feel dry, you could have dry mouth, also called xerostomia, which is a condition that is caused by lack of saliva flow. Since our saliva is a natural way to wash your mouth throughout the day, when it decreases, your mouth is less clean and malodor forms. Some causes for dry mouth can be mouth breathing, certain medications, and salivary gland problems after cancer treatment.
Not only can the smell of cigarettes give your bad breath, it is also the number one risk factor for periodontal disease. Smoking can also cause dry mouth too. Worse yet, smoking can reduce your taste and smell, which can make it hard for you to even recognize that you have bad breath.
You know that certain types of foods like garlic and onions can cause bad breath, but did you know that low-carb or keto diets can too? It’s true. Ketones that are produced when fats breakdown can have a strong, unpleasant aroma.
Some medications can cause dry mouth, which you now know can cause bad breath. But did you know that some medications can actually be the reason for your bad taste or mouth odors? Medications such as nitrates, phenothiazines, chemotherapy medications, and even vitamins can alter your breath.
Mouth, nose, and throat conditions like chronic sinus, allergy, and tonsil issues can contribute to bad breath. More serious health issues such as certain types of cancer, liver failure, and GERD can also cause halitosis.
The Bottom Line
The most important thing to remember about bad breath is that good homecare is your best defense. Making sure that you are brushing and flossing daily removes the harmful bacteria that causes halitosis. Visiting your dentist regularly also helps because your dental professionals can professionally clean your teeth, diagnose any more serious dental issues, and treat them effectively.
Your dental team is always happy to answer questions and give you custom homecare recommendations to help reduce bad breath, so you feel more confident about your mouth.