Bad breath can be an awkward setback for social settings, whether it’s with family or friends. While bad breath may not seem like an immediate concern outside of a social setting, it’s crucial to know the source of the problem since it could be the sign of a serious dental, or even medical, issue.
Also referred to as halitosis, bad breath is an unpleasant odor that can often be detected when a person exhales or speaks. There are several different causes for halitosis, but most bad breath begins in the mouth.
If you’re reading this and have bad breath, don’t feel discouraged; there are ways to prevent and/or treat it, making your mouth a clean, happy, and healthy one. Today, your local McAllen dentists at WhiteWing Dental will go over the 5 causes of bad breath and what they could mean for your dental health.
5 Most Common Causes of Bad Breath
- Food: The food you love to eat can cause some seriously bad odor. When you’re chomping down on food that contains stinky odors like garlic, onions, coffee, and other certain spices, your breath may smell for a while until everything has been digested and passed. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash may only cover the smell temporarily, and whatever food particles are left behind could feed the bacteria within your mouth, further exacerbating the offensive odor and quite possibly causing damage to your enamel from their secretion of acids.
- Tobacco: There is no doubt that smoking cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products can leave a distinct, foul smell. Tobacco products also raise your likelihood of developing oral, as well as other, cancers.
- Poor oral hygiene and gum disease: When you skip brushing your teeth, flossing, and cleaning your tongue, you’re letting food particles hang out in your mouth. The bacterial breakdown of these leftover bits of food and create a litany of smelly odors. Allowing the bacteria to grow also increases your susceptibility to gum disease and tooth decay. If you use any dental appliances (e.g. retainers or dentures), clean them on a regular basis, and don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every two to three months.
- Dry mouth: Saliva cleans out your mouth by clearing out those unwanted food particles. If your mouth is dry, food particles that lead to bad odor can stay in your mouth. Some medications have side effects that unfortunately include dry mouth, and this can indirectly give you bad breath as well.
- Medical conditions: Respiratory infections and inflammation of the sinuses, lungs, or throat may cause bad breath, especially when mucus is draining throughout the mouth and nose region. Other medical conditions that can lead to bad breath are diabetes, pneumonia, bronchitis, liver or kidney problems, postnasal drip, and chronic sinus infections.
What Bad Breath Means for Your Dental Health
If your bad breath persists, or you develop a foul taste in your mouth, it could be a warning sign of periodontal diseases like gingivitis. You’re prone to having gum disease if too much plaque builds up on your teeth from a lack of proper dental hygiene. If gum disease goes untreated, it may damage your gums and jawbone, which could lead to periodontitis, a disease that can cause bone and tooth loss.
You can prevent bad breath and gum disease by:
- Brushing twice a day for two minutes
- Flossing once per day regularly
- Brushing your tongue
- Seeing your dentist for oral checkups/cleanings at least twice a year
- Kicking your smoking habit to the curb
- Staying hydrated with plenty of water
- Keeping track of what foods you eat
How to Treat Bad Breath
In most cases, your dentist at Whitewing Dental can help you treat bad breath that is caused by gum disease. If your dentist confirms that your mouth is healthy and the odor is not based on your oral health, however, you may be referred to your doctor or to a specialist to uncover the reason behind the odor along with whatever treatment plan they issue out to you.
Don’t lose friends (or your teeth) for ignoring stinky breath. Our dental team has the resources you need so you don’t have to think twice about how to get your breath once again smelling nice.