Bad breath is something that we may all have been conscious of at some point in our lives, and one of the reasons why we may buy gum and mints, to keep our breath minty fresh. But could there be more to bad breath than just brushing your teeth and having the odd minty treat?
Causes of Bad Breath (Halitosis)
According to the NHS, the most common cause of bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is poor oral hygiene where bacteria that is also responsible for gum disease and tooth decay, builds up on and between your teeth as well as your tongue and gums, which can produce unpleasant smelling gases.
Other causes can include:
Crash dieting – According to Medical News Today, fasting and low-carb diets can produce bad breath, because of the breakdown of fats producing chemicals called ketones which have a strong aroma, that give the breath a distinctive sweet and sickly smell.
Medication – Mayo Clinic reveals that some medications can indirectly cause bad breath by contributing to a dry mouth, while the body breakdown of others can release chemicals that could be carried on your breath. Some medications that can cause bad breath include: nitrates which are sometimes used to treat angina, tranquillisers (phenothiazines) and some chemotherapy medication. The NHS also adds that your GP may be able to recommend an alternative if the medication you’re taking is causing bad breath.
Food and drink – eating certain foods can cause bad breath, as WebMD explains, the food with strong flavours will not go away completely until those foods have been passed through your body. Even brushing, flossing or using mouthwash will only cover up the odour temporarily until it is processed through the body.
The NHS adds that strong smelling drinks can also cause temporary bad breath.
Medical Conditions – NHS says that bad breath can also be caused by certain medical conditions in rare cases. Conditions such as dry mouth (xerostomia), where the flow and composition of saliva may be affected, can cause more bacteria to build up in your mouth than normal, as well as changes in the types of bacteria which may lead to bad breath.
Gastrointestinal conditions can also cause bad breath, such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease which has been linked to bad breath. You may need to have an endoscopy if a gastrointestinal condition is thought to be causing your bad breath. Other medical conditions that can cause bad breath include: throat, lung or nose infections and diabetes.
Smoking – Not only does smoking cause bad breath and significantly increases your risk of gum disease, it ask stains your teeth, irritates your gums and reduces your sense of taste too, according to the NHS.
What you can do about bad breath
Medical News Today says that the best way to treat most cases of bad breath is good oral hygiene to ensure that cavities are avoided and to reduce the likelihood of gum disease. They recommend a visit to the dentist for a clean and check-up twice a year, where the dentist may recommend a toothpaste that includes an antibacterial agent or an antibacterial mouthwash. Mayo Clinic also suggests some lifestyle and home remedies that can help with bad breath:
- Brush your teeth after you eat using a fluoride-containing toothpaste with antibacterial properties
- Brush your tongue which can harbour bacteria that can cause bad odours
- Clean dentures or dental appliances
- Floss at least once a day which removes food particles and plaque from between your teeth, helping to control bad breath
- Adjust your diet to avoid foods that can cause bad breath such as onions and garlic, as well as sugary foods
- Regularly get a new toothbrush approximately every 3 to 4 months and choose a soft-bristled toothbrush
There are many causes of bad breath and it can make you feel very conscious, but there are plenty of things you can try to avoid it. If you are worried about bad breath it’s always the best option to see a healthcare professional about it, like your dentist.
Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute the medical advice from a healthcare professional.