Have you ever had a loved one tell you that your breath stinks? Do they say it frequently? Perhaps you lean in to speak closer to your spouse only to hear, “Your breath really stinks!” It doesn’t feel great when you’re told often that your bad breath is noticeable, but it’s incredibly embarrassing to hear this in public. What’s worse is if no one has exposed your bad breath, and you’re out and about unaware that people are holding their breath when you speak!
If you’re self-conscious about the odors seeping from your mouth, see Dr. McMahon or one of the Edgewood dentists at Edgewood Dental Care! Keep reading to find out why fixing your chronic bad breath – also known as halitosis – might require the help of a doctor.
Causes of Bad Breath
Before we delve into why your breath smells bad, let’s look at the stats.
- According to American Dental Association studies, as many as 1 out of 4 people have bad breath.
- As many as 60 million people in the U.S. will have chronic halitosis at some point.
- It can have external and internal causes, but about 90 percent come from the mouth.
- It affects all age groups, and many people don’t know they have it.
You’ve probably suspected that your bad breath could be from what you’ve eaten, especially garlicky foods. This could be true, because food is a common cause of bad breath. Here’s a whole list of common reasons people like you suffer from bad breath.
- Food and drink: One of the main causes of bad breath is what you eat and drink. Garlic, onions, cheeses, meats and fish (like tuna), broccoli, eggs, and a host of other foods can cause bad breath. Beverages such as alcohol and coffee may be to blame for halitosis, too. However, bad breath from these sources typically goes away after brushing and flossing.
- Poor dental hygiene: This is a huge reason behind bad breath, especially in kids, who aren’t as motivated to take great care or thorough care of their teeth. When food builds up in your mouth, especially on the back of your tongue, it can cause bacteria to create a chemical compound known as volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). It contains sulfur, the same compound responsible for the foul odor in eggs!
- Tobacco: Using tobacco in any form can make your breath smell bad.
- Medication: Some medications affect your metabolism and can in turn produce chemicals that are smelled in your mouth. Other medications can cause dry mouth and therefore bad breath.
- Dry mouth: Most often caused by medications, dry mouth is indicated by reduced saliva. And without all that saliva, you’re not washing away the foodborne bacteria and odors.
- Sinus problems, tonsillitis, and respiratory issues: Bacteria and infections, such as those from a sinus infection, can result in bad breath.
- Disease: Different types of diseases can produce bad breath, including diabetes, cancer, and gastrointestinal problems like acid reflux and GERD.
- Gum disease: When bacteria builds up for so long without proper hygiene or professional teeth cleanings, it can develop into gum disease. Gum disease may also have genetic factors.
How to Get Rid of Bad Breath
Now that you know the main causes of bad breath, let’s take a look at their solutions.
- Food and drink: As we mentioned, bad breath from food or drink goes away after brushing and flossing, and even after chewing gum or eating mints, to some extent. If you’re concerned about bad breath from food in public, you might want to consider what you eat first. Also, cutting back on alcohol intake can reduce alcohol-induced bad breath.
- Poor dental hygiene: Aside from preventing disease and decay, taking care of your teeth is one of the best ways to prevent bad breath. Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss once a day to get rid of that bacteria between your teeth. Don’t let it harbor! Also, make sure you come in for regular cleanings so that we can get to all those areas that brushing and flossing alone can’t. If you have kids, help promote good hygiene by showing them how to brush and floss properly and making sure they do it every day. Read last month’s blog post about establishing good dental hygiene for kids.
- Tobacco: The best way to get rid of your bad breath from tobacco is to give it up. Talk to us if you’re considering giving up tobacco.
- Medication and dry mouth: If we suspect your medication is causing your bad breath, we’ll ask you to talk to your doctor about switching medication, if possible. If your medications is causing dry mouth, we can recommend special mouthwashes to help. We’ll also ask you to see if increasing your water intake helps.
- Sinus problems, tonsillitis, and respiratory issues: If we believe this might be the reason behind your halitosis, we’ll tell you so that you can talk to your doctor about treating those root problems.
- Disease: If you have medical conditions that you cannot control, talk to us about products, like mouthrinse, that can help eliminate the odors.
- Gum disease: When you come to us for routine cleanings and exams, we’ll check for gum disease and help prevent early signs. If you do have gum disease or suspect you do because you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time, we have solutions to get rid of the disease, which will make your bad breath go away.
If you want to banish bad breath for good, contact us for an appointment or a dental cleaning, if you’re overdue. We’ll help pinpoint the cause so that you can say goodbye to halitosis!