What Causes Bad Breath?
An estimated 50 percent of American adults suffer from bad breath and 60 million U.S. adults will suffer from the more severe form of bad breath, which is chronic halitosis. With those statistics in mind, it’s no wonder products like chewing gum and mints are so readily available at grocery store cash registers.
But covering up bad breath with something that’s “minty fresh” doesn’t resolve the underlying cause of the problem. By first understanding the health issue leading to bad breath, consumers can take measures to correct those issues and prevent bad breath from occurring.
Poor Dental Hygiene
People often erroneously assume that simply brushing their teeth a couple of times a day is enough to eradicate bad breath. In truth, consumers often fail to brush long enough to sufficiently remove particles around the teeth. The tongue can also be a source of bacterial build-up, so it’s important to brush there, as well. Those who don’t floss can easily end up with food particles lodged between teeth, leading to odor.
In addition to brushing and flossing regularly, dental visits should be scheduled twice per year. Hygienists conduct a thorough cleaning that removes plaque, which contains bacteria that leads to odor. Regular dental visits also ensure any dental health issues will be pinpointed early and resolved before they can lead to chronic bad breath.
In addition to unidentified dental issues, medical problems can also lead to odorous breath. Sinusitis can lead to bad breath, caused by mucus dripping down the back of the throat. Since bacteria reside in the back of the throat, the constant wetness can cause odor during the time a person is sick. Medications that dry up sinuses can also resolve these bad breath problems.
Extreme bad breath in the morning could be a sign of sleep apnea, since sufferers tend to breathe through their mouths at night. Those with type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can have sweet, fruity breath and an ammonia smell can indicate kidney disease.
Food and beverage consumption is often a more immediate cause of bad breath, especially if that food or beverage is especially strong. Especially odorous foods like onions and garlic can lead to bad breath so strong, mouthwash and mints won’t help. Strong beverages like coffee can leave a lingering odor, which is especially notable since most people drink coffee in the morning, followed almost immediately by interaction with others.
Smoking causes bad breath for a variety of reasons, the most obvious of which are the smoke particles that it leaves in the throat and lungs. The chemicals in cigarettes also leave a residue in the mouth that leads to odor. Lastly, smoking dries out the mouth, inhibiting the saliva flow necessary to keep bacteria at bay.
If you believe you suffer from bad breath, the most important thing you can do is brush, floss, and visit your dentist for regular cleanings. If this doesn’t eradicate the issue and you’re a non-smoker, you may need to speak to your dentist to see if there is an underlying problem causing your bad breath.