Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is an indicator of poor dental hygiene, but may also result from other health issues. The types of food you eat and your lifestyle habits strongly affect your breath. If you eat foods with strong odors, it is only normal that it changes the smell of your breath. Brushing your teeth and flossing, in combination with mouthwash, may remove these odors temporarily; however, it will be completely gone only after these foods have been digested by your body.
The most common causes of bad breath are:
- Poor dental care - It is important to brush and floss your teeth daily, as this helps to remove remaining food particles. If you don't brush and floss continually, a sticky plaque of bacteria will form on your teeth. With time, this plaque can eventually lead to plaque-filled pockets between your gums and teeth, also known as periodontitis. Bacteria also rest on your tongue, therefore, when brushing, it is important to clean your tongue as well.
- Food - Eating certain food types, such as garlic, onion, or similar spices, leads to a bad mouth odor. After eating such foods, they enter your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs, and eventually affect your breath. The odor is only gone after these foods have left your body.
- Tobacco - Smokers know that using tobacco products instantly leads to bad breath. As smokers and users of tobacco products usually also have gum disease, the risk of having bad breath instantly increases.
- Infections - After a tooth removal or oral surgery, it is also possible to get bad breath. Gum disease, tooth decay, and similar conditions, are also known to cause bad breath.
- Dry mouth - Most people are familiar with the so-called “morning breath”. During sleep, it's common to have dry mouth, especially if you sleep with your mouth open. This leads to bad breath the next morning.
- Other conditions - There are many conditions that may also lead to bad breath, such as different cancers, metabolic disorders, and stomach acids. Nose and throat conditions can also be associated to bad breath.
There are many steps you can immediately take to prevent or reduce bad breath, such as:
- Practicing good oral hygiene
- Drinking a lot of fluids, to prevent dry mouthSeeing your dentist regularly, to immediately treat any problems that may lead to bad breath
- Stop smoking or using tobacco products
- Healthy eating habits