What Causes Bad Breath?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), half of all adults have bad breath during their lives. Although most cases of bad breath, or halitosis, are temporary and easily remedied, some point to a more serious problem. Continue reading to learn more about four common causes of bad breath.

To learn more about healthy gums and fresh breath, schedule an appointment at Trident Dental for a comprehensive examination and professional teeth cleaning.

Insufficient Home Oral Care

It is essential to properly remove odor-causing bacteria daily to keep your breath fresh. This buildup of bacteria, known as dental plaque, forms constantly and is worsened when food particles remain on your teeth. In addition, bacterial by-products and decayed food on your teeth and gums cause a bad taste and odor in your mouth. You can prevent bad breath from dental plaque by brushing your teeth twice daily for two minutes and flossing at least once, preferably before going to bed at night.

Dry Mouth

Most people experience dry mouth occasionally without any significant consequences. However, persistent dry mouth can lead to problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Adequate amounts of saliva are necessary each day to help wash food particles and bacteria from your teeth. Causes of dry mouth, or xerostomia, include:

  • Side effects of certain medications.

  • Chemotherapy treatments.

  • Radiation treatment of the head and neck.

  • Some medical conditions such as diabetes, Sjogren disease, and other autoimmune disorders.

  • Hormonal changes.

  • Mouth-breathing.

Treating dry mouth typically involves managing the underlying cause. It is commonly treated by improving oral hygiene, avoiding certain medications, taking medications in the morning if possible, staying hydrated, and taking prescribed medications that enhance natural saliva production.

Gum Disease

The odor caused by plaque accumulation can worsen into a condition known as “perio breath” if plaque remains in your mouth. Plaque buildup irritates the gum and causes them to become red and inflamed. Chronic gingivitis leads to infection in the gum, known as periodontitis. With periodontal disease, gum tissue and bone around the tooth begin to decay and cause a distinct foul odor. Once the gums and bone have been damaged, you need professional deep cleaning and possibly gum surgery to correct the problem.

Smoking and Tobacco Products

The results of one study found a high correlation between smoking and halitosis. Since smoking also affects the ability to smell, smokers often don’t realize they have bad breath. Smoking causes bad breath in several ways, including:

  • Chemicals. The chemicals found in tobacco can stick to teeth and gums and are also retained in the lungs. These chemicals cause bad breath by mixing with your saliva, promoting certain bacteria to grow, and changing the usual proportions of healthy bacteria in your mouth, essential for fresh breath. 

  • Breathing. The same foul air breathed into the lungs is exhaled into the mouth to intensify the halitosis.

  • Dry mouth. Smoking is the enemy of salivary glands and healthy salivary flow. This contributes to many oral problems, including halitosis.

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