Halitosis: What Causes Bad Breath
What is halitosis?
If you suffer from halitosis (more commonly known as bad breath), you’ve probably wondered why. Maybe you’ve tried at-home remedies to get rid of it. Well, you’re not alone. About 25% of the global population experience halitosis and many suffer from anxiety and embarrassment because of it.
You might believe that your bad breath is associated with something that YOU are doing wrong.
“Maybe it’s my poor oral hygiene?”
“Did I eat something that smells bad?”
“Maybe I am using the wrong toothpaste?”
The truth is bad breath can be a combination of things.
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3 causes of bad breath
You might be surprised to find that the chief issue for those who suffer from halitosis is bacteria buildup. This means there is an abnormally large amount of bacteria present in the mouth. There are about 100-200 species of oral bacteria present in the oral cavity at any given time. Of those 100-200 species, there are 1000-100,000 bacteria living on just one tooth surface. For those with halitosis, there may be between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria on each tooth.
Bacteria can also occur due to an existing abscess tooth that can occur in adults and children.
If your persistent bad breath is due to foods and spices that cause strong odors, you can simply avoid or limit those types of foods. Our nation is now a global marketplace where you can find foods and spices from around the world right in your local grocery store to replace odor-causing foods. For example, food industry professionals sometimes use leeks as an onion replacement to cut down on odor.
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy may experience bad breath, even if it’s never been an issue in the past. Some chemotherapy medicine given orally can contribute to bad breath. In other cases, patients given chemotherapy intravenously may have bad breath symptoms due to dry mouth or sores in the mouth.
Some other medications that contribute to bad breath include nitrates, which are usually taken for chest pain. Tranquilizers are also known to produce bad breath.
Different types of bad breath and what they mean
Persistent bad breath sometimes points to other underlying dental problems like dry mouth, gum disease, tooth decay/cavities and oral cancer.
Patients often describe bad breath as smelling fishy, cheesy, acidic and even like ammonia. Sometimes these smells can signal other health-related issues. Conditions like bowel obstruction, kidney disease, liver cirrhosis, diabetes, and even asthma can produce bad breath. Rather than speculate about the causes, it’s best for you to have a qualified dental professional conduct a proper oral examination to determine whether other health issues are at play.
How to get rid of bad breath
To cure bad breath, focus on decreasing bacteria in your mouth. Evaluate your oral hygiene practices and make some changes. Brushing, even twice a day, may not be enough. Toothbrushes are not designed to go between the teeth or the gum line. A daily mouth rinse and flossing are good oral hygiene practices to implement if you are not already doing so. A professional teeth cleaning every six months is vital. You can also use a tongue scraper to reduce the existence of bad breath.
When consuming foods that produce bad odors, be sure to drink plenty of fluids, brush, rinse, floss and scrape your tongue immediately after completing your meal. After eating acidic foods, rinse immediately but wait 30 minutes to brush and floss.