What causes bad breath and how to deal with it?

what causes bad breath
Contributed by Rachana Arya

All of us have experienced bad breath at least once in our lifetimes. However, it can also be a daily problem for you and you might struggle for a solution. The condition called bad breath is technically known as Halitosis which often occurs after meals or in the morning after you wake up. Other factors of temporary halitosis might get triggered by the consumption of products that include certain beverages such as drinks containing alcohol, coffee, or tobacco. You might be oblivious to your own halitosis and learn about it from a relative, friend, or coworker. This leads to embarrassment and some discomfort and distress. In severe cases, bad breath might affect your personal relationships and quality of life.

It can originate from both inside as well as outside of the mouth and is typically caused by the bacteria present on the teeth and debris on the tongue. Hence, halitosis can mostly be linked with poor oral hygiene, gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis, and dry mouth where salivary glands are unable to produce sufficient saliva to keep your mouth moist. Your dentist might identify the periodontal disease and any other mouth problem which could have been contributing to your bad breath.

Tonsillitis, respiratory ailments such as sinusitis or bronchitis, and certain gastrointestinal problems might be responsible for some cases of bad breath. Apart from this, advanced liver or kidney disease and uncontrolled diabetes can also cause unpleasant breath. In such cases, you might experience significant symptoms that go beyond bad breath. Therefore, you should seek medical attention immediately.

This medical condition can be assessed by a primary care physician. Your doctor will begin by collecting your detailed medical and dental history followed by an oral examination. Other tests might be done to confirm the presence of halitosis. This is done by measuring the strength of bad breath on a predefined scale through instruments that identify precise compounds related to this condition. Your doctor will evaluate your condition by judging the odor of your tongue scraping, dental floss, or through a dental appliance such as a nightguard. Then your primary care physician might refer you to a dentist if there is evidence of dental problems that cause bad breath.

However, there are steps you can take that can help you eliminate your bad breath.

  • You should brush your teeth at least twice a day with a prescribed toothpaste.
  • You should avoid smoking and chewing tobacco-based products.
  • You must rinse and gargle with an alcohol-free mouthwash before sleeping.
  • Drink enough fluids throughout the day to avoid a dry mouth.
  • Chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production.
  • Regular consumption of mint is a temporary but less recommended method for breath freshening as it can leave a sugary residue behind.

Chronic bad breath could be a sign of a grave medical condition hence you should refer to a dental professional. Learn which foods can cause bad breath. Consider limiting behaviors that can intensify bad breath such as drinking alcohol or smoking. Though a lot of times bad breath could be caused because of the smell of toxic substances that don’t get filtered out of your body due to some problem in the functioning of kidneys or liver, sometimes uncontrolled diabetes could also cause the same. In such cases, it is important to get a full-body screening done.


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