Everyone suffers from bad breath at some point. Bad breath, or halitosis, usually originates in the mouth and can be caused by various factors, including lifestyle, diet, and some health conditions.
Instead of being embarrassed, let’s look at the most common causes of bad breath – and what you can do to solve it.
Read More: 8 Ways to Freshen Your Breath
1. Gum Disease
Gum (periodontal) disease starts when plaque (food particles and bacteria) buildup sits on the teeth for an extended time. When you don’t remove plaque by brushing and flossing correctly, the bacteria on your teeth cause toxins to form. Pockets between the teeth and gums are perfect hiding places for food debris and bacteria that cause gum irritation, inflammation – and bad breath.
Solution: The way to stop the bad breath caused by gum disease is to remove the plaque buildup with professional teeth cleaning twice a year. Between dental visits, make sure to brush properly twice a day, floss every night, and use mouthwash to flush away plaque.
Read More: How to Recognize Gum Disease
Like gum disease, a cavity (tooth decay) is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in plaque. As cavities grow, the bacteria break through the outer shell of enamel and work their way into the tooth. When you have a cavity, plaque accumulates inside and causes bad breath.
Solution: To correct bad breath caused by cavities, your dentist must remove the bacteria and fill the hole. Keeping your teeth clean with proper brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings will prevent new cavities from forming.
Read More: Signs You Have a Cavity
3. Dry Mouth
Saliva helps remove bacteria, so when you have a dry mouth, odor-causing bacteria aren’t washed away – resulting in bad breath. Most people wake up with “morning breath” because during sleep, saliva production decreases, causing dry mouth and bad breath.
Because saliva fights bacteria, a lack of saliva allows bacteria to multiply. This overgrowth leads to bad breath. A dry mouth is also more prone to cavities and gum disease – which cause bad breath.
Solution: Using alcohol-free oral hygiene products and chewing sugar-free gum will help stimulate saliva naturally. Talk to your dentist if you suffer from chronic dry mouth because you may be at risk for different types of dental disease.
Read More: Functions of Saliva that Promote Oral Health
4. Foods and Drinks
This may seem obvious, but certain foods like onion, garlic, and spices can cause bad breath. In addition, coffee and alcoholic drinks can dry out your mouth and promote bacteria that cause bad breath.
Solution: Rinse your mouth with alcohol-free mouthwash after consuming these foods and drinks. If possible, brush or floss to remove any lingering food debris.
5. Poor Oral Hygiene
When you don’t brush and floss your teeth daily, food particles remain on your teeth and cause bad breath. Odor-causing bacteria can also collect on the tongue, which many people fail to clean as part of their daily oral health routine. In addition, if you wear dentures, food can become lodged underneath them and create an unpleasant smell.
Solution: Besides professional dental cleanings twice a year, it’s crucial to properly brush your teeth every morning and night, floss daily, and rinse with mouthwash. Brushing your tongue should also be part of your daily oral routine.
Read More: Daily Dental Do’s – 4 Ways to Keep You and Your Teeth Healthy
6. Other Issues
Other issues outside the mouth can cause bad breath – sinus infections, tonsillitis, heartburn, asthma, gastrointestinal illnesses, and more. Some medications can also contribute to dry mouth or release chemicals that cause bad breath.
Solution: If you suffer from chronic bad breath but have ruled out the other possible causes inside the mouth, ask your primary care physician to refer you to an ENT or other specialist to determine what may be causing your bad breath.
Get to the Root Cause of Bad Breath
Gum, mints, and mouthwash only cover up the problem. Following a proper dental hygiene routine is often enough to improve bad breath.
If you suffer from persistent bad breath, come see Atkins & Anderson Family Dentistry in Bryan/College Station! We’ll perform a thorough evaluation, let you know of any contributing dental causes, and help you find the fresh breath you want.