What Causes Bad Breath?

If you suffer bad breath, you know firsthand how this condition can feel embarrassing. You may even notice people pulling away from you in social situations. This makes it important to know what causes the foul odor on your breath, especially since it could indicate a serious medical or oral health issue. Below, we explore some steps you can take to treat your bad breath and keep your mouth fresh and healthy.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath is a foul odor called halitosis. People around you can often detect the odor when you exhale or talk. According to the American Dental Association, this condition most often starts in your mouth because of one of the following causes:

Spicy or Pungent Foods
When you eat, some remnants of the food can remain in your mouth long after you finish your meal. This remaining food causes bacteria to grow. Particularly troublesome for causing bad breath are spicy foods, garlic, onions and other pungent foods.

Tobacco Use
Smoking and other tobacco use leaves a lingering odor in your mouth and on your breath. You also risk oral cancer and other cancers from using tobacco.

Dry Mouth
Saliva production plays an important role in keeping your mouth clean. Saliva helps break down and clear away food particles, being one of the first steps in healthy digestion. If you do not produce enough saliva, some food particles remain in your mouth and cause foul breath. Some medications cause dry mouth that leads to bad breath.

Medical Conditions
The common cold, respiratory infections, sinus inflammation and other conditions can lead to bad breath. Mucus drainage in your nose and mouth are particularly troublesome when it comes to breath odor. The same is true of diabetes, kidney disease and some liver diseases.

Poor Oral Hygiene and Gum Disease
Not brushing your teeth, flossing or cleaning your tongue enables food particles to stay in your mouth. As a result, bacteria work to break these remnants down. This process causes odor and puts you at greater risk for gum disease, too.

Fighting Bad Breath

Through simple daily oral hygiene, you can solve your foul breath problem. Steps for doing so include:

  • Brushing your teeth twice daily
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste
  • Cleaning dental appliances like dentures or retainers regularly
  • Changing your toothbrush every three months
  • Cleaning your tongue when you brush
  • Flossing daily
  • Twice yearly dental exam and professional cleaning

If these at-home methods do not improve the condition of your breath, talk to your dentist. Through a routine dental exam and review of your health condition and medications, your dentist can determine why this foul odor exists. They can also help you treat it, whether through the above recommendations or prescribed toothpaste and mouthwash, further health care or medication changes.

Don’t Let Bad Breath Embarrass You

If you suffer bad breath, talk to your dentist at Carolina Dental Arts for help. Through his or her recommendations and good oral health care, you can again feel more confident around others. Carolina Dental Arts have one location in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and two in Raleigh, on Glenwood Avenue South and New Bern Avenue. Contact us today to schedule your next dental exam.