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Bad Breath 101: Identifying the Causes of this Oral Malady

Like tooth decay, another common oral health problem around the world is halitosis, of what is commonly known as bad breath.

According to statistics, as much as one in every four Americans experience this oral malady.

While popping those breath mints and practice of good oral hygiene should be enough to keep your breath fresh, it is still important to know what causes that stinky breath to begin with.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is the number one cause of bad breath. If you don’t brush your teeth well, plaque can accumulate and harden into tartar. The rough surface of tartar promotes further plaque accumulation. In addition, you’ll also have food stuck between your teeth that can rot over time.

The numerous bacteria in plaque combined with the rotting bits of food in your mouth cause the unpleasant odor.

Practicing good oral hygiene is the only solution in this case. Be sure to brush your teeth every after meal, and go to your dentist regularly for check-up and professional cleaning.

Certain Foods and Spices

Aside from poor oral hygiene, another common cause of bad breath is the food you eat. Food with strong smell and flavor are usually the culprit. These include garlic, onions, cheese, and soda to name a few. Garlic and onions, in particular can cause bad breath right after consuming them.

You can get rid of the odor by brushing and flossing, but only temporarily. They continue to produce the bad odor long after you’ve eaten them because they get absorbed in the bloodstream and get expelled from the body through the lungs.

Therefore, the best way to prevent bad breath caused by these foods is to reduce your consumption as much as possible.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, or what dentists call xerostomia, is caused by reduced salivary flow. It can be due to smoking, medications, problems with the salivary glands, or even sleeping with your mouth wide open.

The saliva is the mouth’s natural cleanser, given its ability to wash away bacteria and their acids. If your mouth is dry, bacteria can accumulate and the acids they generate can cause tooth decay. And needless to say, a decayed tooth does not smell so good.

Your dentist can manage this by prescribing saliva substitutes, or by asking you to take sugar-free gum or increase your fluid intake. If you are a smoker, you will be advised to quit smoking.

Systemic Diseases

Certain systemic conditions can also have bad breath as one of its manifestations. These include diabetes, liver diseases, kidney disorders, respiratory problems, cancers, and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Problems of the upper respiratory tract, for instance, produce sputum that can be coughed up into the oral cavity, causing halitosis.

If your dentist identifies systemic problem as the cause, he or she will refer you to a physician for proper management.

Malnutrition

Starvation, whether intentional or not, can cause bad breath due to the breakdown of certain chemicals as the body tries to desperately cope up with the lack of available energy source from food. If this is the cause, you will be advised to eat right.

If you have bad breath, don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist about it. Your dentist can help identify what’s causing this problem and devise a treatment plan that will help get rid of it.

For more tips and advice on how to prevent or eliminate bad breath, check out this article.