What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath can be embarrassing, especially if it happens every day. Instead of popping a breath mint or piece of chewing gum in your mouth, it’s important to understand the causes of bad breath so you can stop it in its tracks.

Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth may be a warning sign of gum disease. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque (which contains bacteria) on teeth.

What is halitosis?

Anyone can suffer from bad breath from time to time, but it is estimated that 1 in 4 people has bad breath on a regular basis. In fact, chronic bad breath, known as halitosis, is the third most common reason people seek dental care, followed by tooth decay and gum disease.

Top 5 causes of bad breath

Most cases of bad breath start in the mouth, but there are many possible causes like:

  • Food
    It’s important to brush your teeth after meals to avoid bad breath. Why? The breakdown of food particles stuck in between the teeth can increase bacteria and cause a foul odor. Certain foods like onions, garlic and spices can also be the culprit of bad breath. Once these foods get digested, they can enter the bloodstream, get carried to the lungs and affect your breath.
  • Tobacco products
    Smoking can leave a foul odor in your mouth. Smokers or those who use oral tobacco products are also more likely to have gum disease, which is a primary source of bad breath.
  • Poor dental hygiene
    It’s important to brush and floss daily to remove food particles and avoid halitosis. Your tongue can also trap bacteria that produce foul odors. Anyone who wears dentures must clean them regularly to remove odor-causing bacteria and food particles.
  • Dry mouth
    Dry mouth occurs naturally during sleep, but it can also be a chronic condition resulting from decreased saliva production. Saliva helps keep the mouth clean by helping remove food particles that cause bad odors.
  • Medications
    Some medications can cause bad breath by contributing to dry mouth, while others can release foul-smelling chemicals in your digestive tract that are then carried to your breath.
  • Infections in your mouth
    Things like tooth decay, gum disease, mouth sores or surgical wounds can all contribute to bad breath.
  • Other mouth, nose or throat conditions
    Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat, which lead to postnasal drip, can also lead to bad breath.
  • Other health conditions
    Certain diseases and conditions can lead to bad breath like cancer, certain metabolic disorders, and chronic acid reflux (GERD) because they can cause a distinctive odor because of the chemicals they produce.

Remedies for bad breath and halitosis

If you want to eliminate the odor-causing bacteria in your mouth, it’s important to brush your teeth and tongue after eating, floss at least once per day, and replace toothbrushes regularly (every 3-4 months). You can also avoid foods known for causing bad breath like onions and garlic.

If you or a loved one struggles with halitosis, visit one of our Alpine Dental Health offices near you for a dental hygiene appointment. We are a local, family-owned practice! Not only can our dentists make your smile cleaner and brighter, but we can also help determine whether there is an underlying health concern like tooth decay or gum disease contributing to your bad breath.

Improve your oral hygiene with our help and make halitosis a thing of the past.

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