Ten Causes of Bad Breath & What to Do About it

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Bad breath happens to all of us at one point or another. To get rid of it, you need to know what caused it. Smile On Dental Salon helps our Chicago patients identify and solve the root causes of their bad breath.

Diet and Your Breath

Let’s start here, since we often think of this as the primary cause of bad breath. Certainly, if you’re scarfing down onions and garlic, you’re not doing your breath any favors. However, food is only a short-term cause of bad breath. Once your body metabolizes the food you eat, your breath should return to normal. If it doesn’t, it’s time to investigate the other possible reasons for your bad breath.

Other Causes of Halitosis

What many people don’t realize is that most causes of bad breath have little to do with diet, and that your mouth may not even be the root of your problems.

Bad Habits

Smoking and alcohol use and frequent candy or soft drink consumption will cause bad breath. So too, ironically, might be some things you’re doing thinking you’re helping your breath and your body. Mouthwashes with alcohol cause dry mouth. Juice cleanses or repeated use of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or kombucha also decay teeth due to their high acid content.

Gum Disease

Periodontitis and gingivitis, collectively known as gum disease, do more than cause red and bleeding gums. They can cause deterioration of your jaw, tooth loss, and stinky breath. Gum health, especially in the form of regular dental checkups and flossing, will help.

Oral Infection

If you’re noticing a white film on your tongue, a common yeast infection called Candida albicans may be to blame. Brushing your tongue will help, but the use of a tongue scraper and non-alcohol antibacterial mouthwash will do more to address this issue.

Allergies

Allergies cause post-nasal drip, which in turn causes bad breath. Your stuffy nose and sinuses — as well as some allergy medications — cause dry mouth, which also causes bad breath. Keep airways open, and if you find you’re suffering from dry mouth, use a rinse that regulates your mouth’s moisture levels.

H Pylori

Helicobacter Pylori is a bacterial infection that’s found in people suffering from gastrointestinal problems like ulcers. The bad news: it causes bad breath. The good news: address the root of the problem and the bad breath usually goes away when the infection does.

Acid Reflux

Chronic acid reflux causes sleepless nights, snoring, and bad breath. The acid and partially-digested food that back up into your mouth can also cause esophageal scarring and — in extreme cases — cancer of the esophagus and mouth, so this is another issue best addressed at the source.

Diabetes

If your breath has a faint odor of fermented fruit or nail polish remover, the culprit could be ketoacidosis, the process by which an insulin-deprived body produces acetone-containing ketones as the byproduct of burning off fat cells. If you notice this, speak to your physician about adjusting your diabetes treatment plan.

Cancer

Bad breath can be caused directly by cancers of the head, mouth, neck, and throat. It can also be a harbinger of lung cancer. Certain cancer treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy, can either damage the salivary glands or otherwise cause dry mouth, also leading to bad breath. Your oncologist or physician may be able to advise on dealing with this issue.

Oral Hygiene

There are myriad other causes of bad breath, including liver disease and a variety of autoimmune diseases. However, we’ll close our roundup with another common cause of bad breath: poor oral hygiene. Plaque and tartar harbor halitosis-causing bacteria. Being careless about brushing or flossing leads to tooth decay and gum disease, which also cause your breath to smell bad.

The moral of the story, therefore? Be diligent about dental self-care, and be sure to visit your dentist for preventive dental care, including regular cleanings and checkups. Don’t forget, we’re not just looking for cavities. We’re evaluating your overall oral health, especially since it, and the breath that comes with it, may be your first warning sign of other serious health conditions.

If you haven’t been to a dentist in a while because you’re afraid of what they might find (or might say because of it), stop worrying. Our job here is not to judge you, but to give you the highest standard of oral care possible. Your health — and maybe even your life — can depend on it. So visit 1350 W. Belmont Ave. #1 in Chicago or call Smile On Dental Salon at 773-570-1630 for an appointment today!

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