There are many ways one can develop bad breath (halitosis), but the easiest and most common way is due to poor oral hygiene.
Bacteria that accumulates on one’s tongue, gums, and teeth can result in plaque (white, soft deposit that forms around the teeth), tooth decay, and gum disease.
The bacteria works in tandem with the saliva to disintegrate small food particles and proteins, and this process of breaking down food causes a release of bad smelling gas.
If you do not brush and floss your teeth on a consistent basis, any foods that remain trapped in your teeth will be reduced by bacteria, and this causes halitosis.
Bacteria can also be found on the tongue. That is why dentists often recommend not just brushing your teeth, but brushing your tongue as well since it can carry an abundance of bacteria.
By seeing a dentist for regular check-ups, one can rest assured knowing that any glaring oral hygiene issues are being discovered and remedied before any real damage can be done. Your dentist will be able to regulate how often you need a check-up if you have any outstanding issues.
Food and drinks
Strongly flavored foods like certain spices, onions, and garlic, are likely to cause one’s breath to smell. Additionally, strong smelling drinks like alcohol and coffee can also result in bad breath.
Fortunately, halitosis caused by food and drink typically do not last for very long, and can be easily avoided by simply not consuming these types of food too often. Combined with proper oral hygiene, and there will not be any issues with bad breath.
Another potential cause of bad breath may be due to smoking. Not only can smoking cause bad breath, but it can also irritate your gums, stain your teeth, and reduce your sense of taste.
Even worse, smoking will drastically increase the chances of developing gum disease, which will also cause halitosis (among other problems). Quitting smoking will instantly lower your chances of developing any of the aforementioned, and therefore stop bad breath.
Oftentimes, fad diets, as well as fasting and low-carb diets will result in bad breath. This is because while dieting, the body will break down fat to use as energy, which produces chemicals known as ketones that can be smelt.
Specific types of medications can also lead to bad breath. Some of these medications are:
- Chemotherapy medication
- Nitrates – sometimes used for the treatment of angina (pain felt in the chest due to a reduction of blood supply in one’s heart)
- Phenothiazines (tranquilizers)
If you determine that your medication is the cause of your bad breath, consult with your GP to find an alternative.
In very rare cases, certain medical conditions may be the cause of halitosis.
Xerostomia, also known colloquially as dry mouth, disturbs the flow of saliva. A reduction in saliva levels can result in a build-up of bacteria in the mouth, causing bad breath.
Salivary gland problems can also sometimes cause dry mouth. Even breathing more often through the mouth instead of the nose, which dries it out, can lead to halitosis.
In other cases, gastrointestinal problems can be the cause of bad breath. For instance, H. pylori infections (bacterial issues which affect the small intestine and stomach lining) and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) have been found to cause bad breath.
Should the problem be related to a gastrointestinal condition, then you may need to receive an endoscopy. This is a procedure in which an endoscope is used to investigate a section of the inside of the body, like one’s abdomen or airways.
Some additional potential medical conditions that can result in halitosis are: