25% of people in the US suffer from bad breath (also known as halitosis), however, everyone suffers from bad breath at some point in their life. Bad breath usually originates in the mouth and can be caused by a variety of reasons, including your diet, lifestyle habits, and certain health conditions. This blog explores some potential oral causes of bad breath.
1. Certain Foods and Drink
Certain foods like dairy, onions, garlic, and spices cause bad breath. In addition, drinks like alcohol and coffee can dry out your mouth, promoting bacteria that causes bad breath.
2. Poor Oral Hygiene
If you don't brush and floss your teeth everyday, food particles remain on your teeth and cause bad breath. In addition, if you wear dentures, food can become lodged underneath your dentures, creating an unpleasant smell. Odor-causing bacteria can also collect on the tongue, which many people fail to clean as part their oral health routine.
3. Dry Mouth
Saliva helps displace bacteria in the mouth that causes bad odors. When you have dry mouth, odor-causing bacteria is not washed away by saliva, resulting in bad breath. This is why most people have "morning breath;" your saliva production decreases when you are sleeping causing dry mouth and bad breath.
Smoking can dry out your mouth, resulting in bad breath, and make your mouth smell like an ashtray. Furthermore, smokers are more prone to gum disease, which is another source of bad breath.
When you have a cavity (or tooth decay), plaque (food particles and bacteria) accumulates in the cavity and causes bad breath.
6. Gum Disease
Gum (periodontal) disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on the teeth. When you fail to brush and floss properly, the bacteria on your teeth causes toxins to form. This can irritate the gums, cause pockets to form between your teeth and gums that trap food, and cause bad breath.
7. Dental Work
Bleeding or dry sockets after extractions (like wisdom tooth removal) can cause bad breath until the wound heals. An infection from a dental implant can also cause bad breath, thus, good oral hygiene is crucial to prevent unpleasant complications.
There are potential causes outside of the mouth that can be causing your bad breath. This may include heartburn, gastrointestinal illnesses, uncontrolled diabetes, kidney disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis, liver cirrhosis, tonsillitis, sinus infection, and other serious illnesses. In addition, certain medications can contribute to dry mouth or release chemicals that cause bad breath.
Using mouthwash, gum, and mints will only cover up the problem. In most cases, following a proper dental hygiene routine will improve bad breath. If at-home care doesn't solve the problem, contact your dentist and schedule an appointment for a proper evaluation.
Getting to the root cause is key to getting rid of bad breath, thus, it is highly recommended to consult a professional.