What are the main causes of bad breath?

Girl checking her breath
Bad breath can have many different causes, some serious, and others not!

Perhaps you’ve just woken up in the morning and notice your breath isn’t very fresh, or you’ve just eaten lunch and are looking for breath mints. Everyone experiences bad breath at times. This temporary inconvenience can normally be resolved by just swishing some mouthwash, drinking some water, or chewing sugar-free gum, but maybe you’ve tried these quick fixes and are still not able to maintain fresh breath. Generally, bad breath can be caused by a number of things ranging from mild to serious, including:

  • Morning breath. Saliva production decreases significantly during sleep, so it’s normal to wake up with bad breath. Bacteria has been allowed to sit in your mouth with little interruption for many hours, so make sure to brush your teeth not long after waking.
  • Consuming certain foods and drinks. The worst food offenders that immediately cause bad breath are commonly garlic and onion; the notorious “coffee breath” has a reputation for quickly putting people off as well. All of these foods are considered nutritious in their own ways, so the answer is not to eliminate them from your diet completely, but everyone around you will be grateful if you have a breath mint and a glass of water after consumption.
  • Bad oral hygiene. Neglecting the basics of flossing once daily and brushing twice will always have severe consequences; consistent halitosis might be a warning sign that something isn’t right (it’s possible that tooth decay has already set in).
  • Dry mouth. This can be caused by a fairly long list of things. Sometimes it is hereditary, but it is always treatable. Whether from a certain medication or just not drinking enough water, dry mouth will wreak havoc on your teeth and gums if left unaddressed.
  • Smoking. Consistent tobacco use will result in consistent bad breath, along with other dental woes.
  • Sinus infections. Mucous from post-nasal drip is a breeding ground for bacteria, so while you have a sinus infection, you will probably want to keep mouthwash or sugar-free gum close by.
  • Kidney or liver issues. When these organs are not functioning properly, toxins will buildup in your system, and one of the less serious results is a bad taste in the mouth.

Chronic bad breath lasting more than a few weeks typically does not require medical care and can be addressed fairly easily. Staying hydrated to prevent dry mouth (perhaps caused by medications), brushing and flossing regularly to prevent plaque buildup, and quitting smoking if you do have the habit are all easy ways to effectively kill the bacteria. If it is caused by a sinus infection, it should go away when you are recovered. Eating raw produce is also a great way to quickly clean your mouth and prevent food debris from sticking.

Most often, halitosis that cannot be treated easily is a warning sign of major tooth decay and/or gum disease caused by bad oral hygiene. Sometimes, it can also be a symptom of other conditions that definitely require medical attention, such as diabetes, certain types of infection, or kidney/liver problems. If you think you have serious halitosis and are not sure why, make an appointment with us so that we can examine the issue and determine a course of action. If you need further medical attention that dental treatment will not take care of, that can be determined at the appointment. Call us today so that your chronic bad breath can be a thing of the past!