What Causes Bad Breath?

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Bad breath. We all have some experience with it, whether you’ve suffered from it yourself or been around someone else who does. Bad breath isn’t just embarrassing and annoying, but it can have a dramatic impact on your relationships, professional life, and self-confidence. The first step to tackling bad breath is understanding what causes it and what you can do about it. In many cases, bad breath doesn’t just mean your co-worker forgot to brush their teeth this morning, it is actually a more serious dental or medical issue.

The official name for bad breath is halitosis, an inconvenient condition that affects roughly 30 percent of people around the world. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of cases of bad breath originate in the mouth, throat, or tonsils. While everyone has bad breath at one time or another (hello, morning breath), if it persists and doesn’t improve with brushing, flossing, or rinsing with mouthwash, it may be a chronic condition that should be diagnosed by a dentist. There are many different causes of bad breath, from dehydration to poor dental hygiene.

In order to help you tackle your bad breath head on, we thought it would be helpful to go over the top causes of this embarrassing disorder. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), bad breath is most commonly caused by:

  • Certain foods and beverages – Particles from pungent foods like garlic, onions, and certain spices can cause bacterial growth, which can in turn lead to bad breath. As these foods travel through your digestive system, they can cause bad odor and other unpleasant symptoms.
  • Poor oral hygiene – This one should come as no surprise, but one of the leading causes of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. People who don’t brush and floss at least twice a day are at an increased risk of developing chronic bad breath. Brushing your teeth doesn’t just help keep them white and shiny, it works to breakdown those remnants of food we mentioned earlier.
  • Gum disease – When you don’t brush and floss the bacteria starts to grow in the mouth, it can result in gum disease. Furthermore, individuals who wear dental appliances like dentures and retainers are at a higher risk of developing bad breath and bacteria. Make sure you clean these apparatuses on a regular basis and get in the habit of changing your toothbrush approximately every three months to prevent bacteria growth and gum disease.
  • Dehydration – Many people will be surprised by this, but dehydration is the leading cause of bad breath behind poor dental hygiene. If you don’t drink enough water, food and bacteria will linger in your mouth, leading to unpleasant bad breath. Thankfully this one is a quick fix – all you have to do is up your H2O consumption!
  • Serious illness – Bad breath is often the sign of a far more serious illness than you may realize. The presence of certain gasses and odors in the mouth may indicate certain diseases, such as liver or kidney disease, diabetes, and asthma. Don’t turn to WebMD for this one, make sure you schedule an appointment with your dentist and physician – they will be able to perform tests to see what is going on.

Bad breath is no fun, but luckily there are ways to fix it. With good dental hygiene and regular visits to your Irving dentist, your breath will soon smell like roses.