Bad Breath: Causes and Solutions

Have you ever wondered what causes bad breath, but felt too embarrassed to ask a dentist, or even too fearful to run a Google search?

If you know you have bad breath, but don’t know why, it is crucial to know the various causes in order to pinpoint how to treat your own case. Some things lead to temporary bad breath, while other issues lead to chronic bad breath.

Causes of bad breath can include sleep, certain foods, dieting, dehydration, hunger and missed meals.

Sleep. While sleeping, saliva flow decreases, allowing bacteria to grow, which causes bad breath. Breathing through your mouth while sleeping causes saliva to evaporate quickly. This leads to a dry mouth and, ultimately, you wake up with bad breath.

Certain foods. Certain foods such as coffee, garlic and onions contain odor-causing compounds. Dairy, alcohol and sugary candy also contribute to bad breath. Once compounds within these foods enter the bloodstream and are transferred to the lungs, the odor-causing compounds are exhaled as ‘bad breath.’ These odors remain until your body has processed the food.

Poor diet. A diet low in vegetable intake can contribute to bad breath. Unhealthy foods, such as processed foods and foods containing refined sugar and chemicals, can lead to digestive and stomach issues. This leads to a breakdown of tissue and an aggressive immune response in the body, triggering bad breath. When dieting, ketones chemicals are released as ”bad breath,” as your body burns fat.

Improper brushing. Poor oral hygiene causes plaque buildup, which can lead to cavities and gum disease, resulting in bad breath.

Dry mouth. Dry mouth due to medication or dehydration causes a reduced amount of saliva in your mouth. With reduced saliva, food particles and bacteria may remain in your mouth, resulting in bad breath.

Smoking. Cigarettes leave smoke particles in the throat and lungs, which can linger for hours. In addition, the chemicals from tobacco smoke can remain in the mouth, leading to secondary causes of bad breath. And, smoking can dry out the palate, leaving a dry, chemical-filmed environment for bacteria to proliferate.

Medical conditions. Certain medical conditions and illnesses directly and indirectly lead to bad breath. For example, acid reflux and post-nasal drip can cause bad breath. An oral condition such as tonsilloliths (tonsil stones), which are formed when bacteria, dead cells and mucous become trapped and calcify, can cause bad breath. In addition, more serious medical conditions such as diabetes, respiratory tract infections or chronic bronchitis can cause the problem.

Medications. Some medications, such as those used to treat high blood pressure, can cause dry mouth, and thus, bad breath.

In order to prevent/avoid bad breath, do the following:

  • Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice daily.
  • Brush your tongue, especially the back of your tongue where most odor-causing bacteria is found.
  • Floss daily, using a floss holder as needed to reach your back teeth.
  • Use antiseptic mouthwash to freshen breath, fighting against the bacteria that causes bad breath.
  • Replace your toothbrush every two to three months.
  • Go to dental checkups and cleanings at least twice a year
  • Drink enough water to stay hydrated.
  • Chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production
  • Limit consumption of foods and beverages that cause bad breath.
  • Limit alcohol consumption and tobacco usage.
  • If you have chronic bad breath, talk to your dentist and your physician to determine if there is an underlying medical condition or dental condition such as gum disease that needs to be treated.

For more information, schedule an appointment with Enlighten Dental Care today!

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