Possible Causes of Bad Breath and What to Do About it

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  • Bad breath (halitosis) affects 25% of people and is typically caused by bacteria on the tongue and teeth.
  • Dietary habits, wisdom tooth decay, oral hygiene, and underlying medical conditions can all contribute to bad breath.
  • To address bad breath, make dietary changes and practice proper oral hygiene.

Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common problem many people experience at some point in their lives. According to the American Dental Association, at least 25% of people suffer from chronic bad breath. The odor is primarily caused by the bacteria on your tongue and teeth but can also be a sign of other underlying health conditions like throat infections or dry mouth.

Most of the time it’s nothing to worry about, but if you’re frequently dealing with bad breath, you may want to consider what could be causing it and how you can fix it. Let’s explore some potential causes of bad breath and what you can do to tackle it.

Dietary Habits

We’re all familiar with the bad breath caused by eating garlic and onions, but did you know that even your daily diet as a whole can lead to odorous breath? Eating processed foods high in sugar, fat, and salt can increase bacteria in your mouth, which leads to an unpleasant odor.

Eating too little fiber also contributes to bad breath, as this type of food helps clean plaque off your teeth and gums. To combat these dietary causes of bad breath, try eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and avoiding processed foods where possible.

Decaying Wisdom Tooth

erupting wisdom tooth xray

Wisdom tooth typically erupts in one’s late teens and early twenties. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth can often be problematic as they may not have enough room to grow or are misaligned, leading to painful and persistent bad breath.

Sometimes, people don’t even realize that wisdom teeth are the root cause of their bad breath. If wisdom teeth aren’t treated properly, they can lead to infection and decay, making bad breath worse.

If wisdom teeth are suspected to be the source of your chronic bad breath, talk to your dentist about removing them. A wisdom teeth removal is a simple procedure and can help you get rid of bad breath and other wisdom teeth-related issues.

Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is another common cause of bad breath. Bacteria will build up on your teeth if not brushed twice daily – these bacteria then break down food particles which produce sulfur compounds responsible for the foul smell associated with bad breath. It’s also important to floss regularly as this helps remove trapped food particles between your teeth that may not be removed by brushing alone. Try using an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing your teeth each day to get rid of any lingering odors.

Medical Conditions

In some cases, bad breath may be caused by underlying medical conditions such as sinus infections or acid reflux disease (GERD). Chronic dry mouth is another medical condition that can lead to bad breath as saliva helps keep bacteria levels low in your mouth so without enough saliva there isn’t anything to wash away those sulfur compounds we talked about earlier. If you suspect a medical condition is causing your bad breath, visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.

How to Address Bad Breath

No one wants to be the person in the room with bad breath. It can be embarrassing and make you feel self-conscious throughout the day. Fortunately, you can take a few simple steps to ensure your breath smells fresh and clean no matter where you go!

Dietary Changes

What you eat can play a major role in how your breath smells. Certain foods—like onions and garlic—can contribute to bad breath, so if you’re prone to having stinky breath, it’s probably best to avoid them.

Oral Hygiene

woman in the restroom brushing her teeth

Of course, diet isn’t the only factor in eliminating bad breath; oral hygiene is also key. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste will help remove bacteria from your mouth that contribute to halitosis.

Checkups with Your Dentist

Another important step in keeping your breath smelling fresh is scheduling regular checkups with your dentist. Having regular cleanings allows dentists to identify any potential problems before they become bigger issues that could result in foul odors coming from your mouth.

Mouthwash and Breath Fresheners

Using a mouthwash or breath freshener can help to mask the smell of bad breath temporarily. Look for products that contain natural ingredients like peppermint, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil which are known for their antibacterial properties.

As you can see, there are several possible causes of chronic bad breath, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it. With the right changes to your diet and oral hygiene routine, as well as regular checkups with your dentist, you should be able to keep bad breath from becoming a problem in your life!

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