No one wants bad breath; it can be embarrassing and cause us to be self-conscious in social situations. Bad breath is known medically as halitosis and can also be a sign of serious health problems.
Finding the cause of our bad breath, as well as finding a cure is essential for our confidence and our overall health.
What is Bad Breath?
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Bad breath can come from a multitude of origins, including the mouth and teeth, or a seemingly unrelated health issue. Depending on its source, bad breath can be a temporary issue that can be resolved on your own or a chronic condition that should be resolved by a dental professional or even a doctor.
Symptoms of Bad Breath
Bad smells coming from your mouth, or a bad taste in your mouth are tell-tale signs of the condition.
What Causes Bad Breath?
The main cause is poor dental hygiene. It’s a combination of bacteria growth and decaying food particles leads to an unpleasant odour coming out of your mouth. This can be avoided with a proper dental hygiene routine.
If you are wearing dentures or braces, you must treat the appliance just like you would your natural teeth. This means you must clean them thoroughly every night to eliminate bacteria or food particles which could lead to bad breath.
To understand better, check out the video by ADA (American Dental Association) explaining the Causes of bad breath:
What Causes Bad Breath Even After Brushing?
If you brushed and flossed your teeth and the bad smell persists, it may be a sign that more than poor oral hygiene is your issue.
- Food and beverages
- Tobacco products
- Dry mouth
- Dental diseases
- Mouth, nose and throat conditions
- Other diseases
Certain foods and drinks are known for causing halitosis, like onions or even coffee. When you eat onions, garlic, or similar foods, your stomach absorbs their oils during digestion. As the oils are absorbed, they are introduced into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs, producing a noticeable odour for up to 72 hours.
Tobacco products like cigarettes cause a bad odour and dry out your mouth, perpetrating unpleasant smells.
Dry mouth is a reduced level of saliva, which causes bad breath. It is more common in the elderly and those who take medications.
Dental diseases like periodontal disease can cause halitosis in some individuals because of the development of pockets in the gums which collect bacteria and food particles.
Serious sinus infections, postnasal drainage, chronic bronchitis, tonsil stones, and infections in the respiratory system are known to cause symptoms of bad breath in patients.
Unpleasant breath odour can also be an uncommon side effect of health conditions, including kidney disease, diabetes, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can also cause a bad odour.
Types of Bad Breath Smells
Depending on what your breath smells like you may be able to determine the cause.
- Cheesy: nasal origin
- Fruity: untreated diabetes
- Fishy: kidney disease, kidney or liver failure, diabetes
- Acidic: severe asthma or cystic fibrosis
- Ammonia-like: kidney issues
- Sweet, musty smell: liver cirrhosis
- Fecal odour: bowel obstruction, bacteria imbalance within the mouth, protein breakdown on the gum tissues or tongue
Bad Breath in Toddlers
Toddlers can also experience bad breath.
- Oral issues
- Sinus infection
- Other causes
- Any disease or condition that causes acid/heartburn/stomach distress
- Bloating, gas, and burping
- Bowel obstruction or constipation
- Regularly clean your dentures, mouthguards, or retainers because they also harbour bacteria.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months or more often if the bristles become frayed.
- Stay hydrated, as this keeps your mouth from being dry and washes food particles from in between your teeth.
- If you smoke, quit immediately to counteract any unpleasant odors.
- Change your diet and fill it with more breath-friendly foods like vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods and drinks that are known to cause halitosis.
- Adhere to regular mealtimes; if you try extreme dieting, your saliva production will decrease, leading to dry mouth and more bacteria.
- Chewing sugar-free gum or using mints and breath sticks can help keep your breath fresh between meals. You could also use a mouthwash between meals for a temporary refresh. However, these do not replace brushing your teeth.
- Finally, remember to schedule dental cleanings and check-ups every six months.
Supervise your toddler while they are brushing their teeth to reduce the risk of them developing halitosis.
Sinus infections, as well as foreign objects stuck up the nose, can cause halitosis in toddlers. If this is the case, the halitosis will also be accompanied by the following symptoms: runny nose, cough, facial pain or discharge from one, or both nostrils.
Problems with the stomach and digestive system can cause bad breath in toddlers. If the stomach or digestive tract is the issue, your toddler will also have some abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or heartburn.
Bad Breath Cancer
Throat, lung, and mouth cancers can cause bad breath. Persistent halitosis has become a detection technique for early lung cancer.
Mouth Cancer Awareness: Symptoms and Risk factors (Watch Your Mouth)
Bad Breath from the Stomach
Halitosis can also stem from your stomach and different digestive diseases. Several digestive diseases can cause bad breath, including:
Bad Breath Treatment Options
The correct treatment option will depend on whether an underlying medical condition is causing your halitosis.
Your dentist will assess your breath and oral health. Your hygienist will clean your teeth and gums to remove leftover food particles that could be causing your bad breath.
If you have an underlying medical condition, your dentist may refer you to your doctor for a check-up.
Home Remedies to Cure Bad Breath Permanently
Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice a day, followed by flossing and an antimicrobial mouthwash. Mouthwashes that contain zinc provide additional protection against halitosis.
Halitosis can be a serious medical condition, so book an appointment with your dentist or doctor immediately to assess the risk and get your oral health back in order.
Author Bio: This article contributed by Shilan Shah from High Oaks Dental Care. High Oaks Dental Practice is a Private and NHS Dentist in St Albans. Using the latest technologies, High Oaks Dental provides a wide range of dental treatments with all the comfort and caring manner.