Bad breath, or what your dentist might call halitosis, is a problem that affects everyone at some point. While it’s normal to experience bad breath every so often, for 50% of the adult population bad breath can become a more chronic issue.
You may have seen a range of gums, breath strips, mints, and oral rinsing products aimed specifically at remedying bad breath. In fact, the fresh breath business is now a $3 billion dollar industry. However, many of these treatments are little more than a band-aid solution as they don’t do anything to fix the root cause of halitosis.
If you’re wondering what’s causing bad breath, and what you can do about it, take a look at the possible culprits below:
Main Causes of Bad Breath
As the food we eat breaks down in our mouths, it feeds the naturally occurring bacteria that live there causing an unpleasant smell. Some foods like garlic and onions as well as certain spices, are known for their bad breath potential. But did you know that the story doesn’t end in the mouth? As we digest these foods, they are carried through our bloodstream to the lungs where they can continue to affect our breath.
By now it should come as no surprise that smoking causes bad breath. However, beyond the inherent stink of tobacco products themselves, smokers are also more likely to suffer from gum disease which can negatively affect breath in the long term.
3. Poor dental hygiene
The human mouth is full of tiny spaces for food and bacteria to become trapped. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, bacteria build up over time into a layer of plaque, which in turn causes gum disease and bad breath.
4. Dry mouth
Saliva plays an essential role in keeping our mouths clean by rinsing out particles that may contribute to bad breath. If you’re not producing enough of it, you may notice a foul odour. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, occurs naturally while we sleep (especially for open-mouth sleepers) or it can be the result of medication or disease. Treating dry mouth may help alleviate bad breath caused by a lack of saliva.
5. Infections in your mouth
A number of injuries to the mouth can become infected and cause a smell, such as surgical wounds, mouth sores, or tooth removal. Tooth decay and cavities can also contribute to bad breath in this way.
6. Tonsil stones
At the back of our throats, tiny creases and divots in our tonsils can collect food particles, mucus, and dead cells, which may build up over time into a spongy yellow or white stone. These can be as small as a pinhead or as large as a grape. Bacteria and oral fungi build up in these stones causing a foul odour, so if you experience tonsil stones, your bad breath is likely related.
Medications have side effects and a common one is dry mouth, which as noted above, can exacerbate bad breath. Other medications also release chemicals in the blood upon being broken down, which can then be carried out by the breath.
Other causes of Halitosis (Bad Breath)
Many nose, sinus, and throat infections cause postnasal drip, which can worsen bad breath. What’s more, some diseases like oral cancers and metabolic disorders also create a distinct smell. Acid reflux is also associated with bad breath.
So, if you’re suffering from halitosis, remember to address the root cause before buying up a quick fix gum or breath mint. Dental clinics can offer assistance in treating some of the more complex causes of bad breath, and regular visits to dentists are an important part of dental hygiene and keeping your breath smelling fresh.