Did you ever notice that someone’s breath was so bad that you wondered if they could actually be unaware of it? Some people really don’t know they have bad breath. They’ve probably become desensitized to it.
Bad breath is embarrassing, affects a person’s social life and can even have a negative impact on their career and job prospects. Many factors can cause bad breath and there are several proven methods to ensure that the mouth is “a breath of fresh air.”
The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. When food particles are not properly removed, they become embedded along the gum line, between teeth and on the surface of the tongue. The deteriorating food particles can produce gum inflammation and a bacterial infection which can result in cause an unpleasant odor.
Gum (periodontal) disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth. Persistent bad breath or bad taste can be warning signs of gum disease. Bacteria cause toxins to form, which irritate the gums. If this disease continues untreated, it can damage the gums and jawbone.
Several diseases and illnesses can cause bad breath. Respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, chronic acid reflux, liver or kidney problems and some autoimmune diseases like Sjögren’s syndrome are associated with bad breath. A number of medications are prone to produce an unpleasant taste or odor or cause dry mouth, which in turn leads to bad breath.
Dry mouth (also called xerostomia) can cause bad breath because saliva is necessary to moisten the mouth, neutralize acids produced by plaque, and wash away debris that accumulate on the tongue, gums, and cheeks. If not removed, this debris can decompose and can cause bad breath. Dry mouth can be a side effect of various medications, radiation and chemotherapy, salivary gland problems and breathing through the mouth.
Poorly fitting dental appliances, yeast infections of the mouth, and dental caries (cavities) can cause halitosis.
Alcohol consumption and tobacco use both dry out the mouth and cause bad breath. Smoking damages the whole body at the cellular level, including the mouth. Smoking increases the risk of gum disease, oral cancer, and other dental problems.
While most people are aware that foods that contain garlic, onions and strong spices cause a mouth odor, sweets do so as well. Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause bad breath.
The caffeine in coffee dries the mouth, helping bacteria to flourish and increasing bad breath.
Dieting and fasting can also cause bad breath by causing the body to break down fat, which produces chemicals called ketones that have an odor.