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What Causes Bad Breath?

Perhaps one of the greatest fears of anyone who engages with others on a regular basis is having bad breath. We see remedies and preventative measures in the form of gums, candies, mints, sprays, and other products at virtually every cashier stand in the nation. The problem with this is we are simply covering up the symptoms of a deeper issue without treating the issue itself.  If you’re suffering from bad breath, below are several possible causes and what you can do about it.

Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath, otherwise known by its scientific name, halitosis, is defined simply as an unpleasant odor originating in the mouth. You may not even know you have bad breath unless someone tells you. Fortunately, by taking preventative measures, you can keep bad breath from becoming an embarrassing, ongoing problem. Here are a few popular causes of halitosis:

  • Food – This is the most obvious cause of bad breath. Our mouths are naturally filled with bacteria. Food particles that linger in the mouth throughout the day encourage the spread of bacteria, which can cause can cause an unpleasant odor. Solution: Brush at least twice a day for 2 minutes and floss at least once a day.
  • Dry Mouth – In a healthy mouth, saliva is produced throughout the day and helps rinse out the mouth, moving food particles and bacteria out. However, a lack of saliva production can lead to dry mouth, an environment that encourages foul bacteria to grow. You may notice the existence of “morning breath”, even if you don’t normally have bad breath throughout the day. This could be caused by sleeping with your mouth open, inhibiting saliva production. Solution: Drink plenty of water throughout the day and choose a healthy diet consisting of foods that encourage saliva production like celery. Your dentist may suggest purchasing an over-the-counter rinse or spray to help stimulate saliva glands or a product containing artificial saliva.
  • Not Brushing Regularly – With all the food and liquids we consume, it is so important to brush regularly to get rid of the bacteria leftover food can produce. Without brushing, plaque can form on the teeth, getting stuck under gums and trapping bacteria. Solution: Brush and floss regularly.
  • Medications –Many medications leave a foul taste in your mouth which is an indication bad breath may also be a side effect. Certain ingredients/chemicals in medications are metabolized in the body and filter to the bloodstream, which causes that unpleasant taste to occur. Solution:  Ask your dentist what you can use to combat this side effect.
  • Infections – If you are experiencing bad breath unrelated to the causes mentioned above, you might have an infection due to tooth decay, gum disease, sores, or recent surgery. Infected or damaged tissue in the mouth encourages the growth of bacteria and can ultimately lead to bad breath. Solution: Make an appointment with your dentist right away. Infections can lead to other serious situations if left alone.

Final Thoughts

Bad breath can be embarrassing and uncomfortable.  Determining the root cause of halitosis versus relying on sugary gum and mints to cover it up allows you to treat the source of the problem.  Practicing excellent oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly will help prevent bad breath as well as other dental related issues.