Halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath, is a common and embarrassing problem. Virtually everyone experiences bad breath on occasion, especially following a spicy meal. However, chronic or frequent bad breath can be a sign of a more serious oral health problem.

Causes of bad breath

Why does your breath smell foul? There are several possible answers, including:

  • Gum disease – You might not expect an infection in your gums to affect your breath, but bacteria emit a foul odor. For the same reason, any infected wound or other bacterial accumulation can cause chronic bad breath.
  • Food – This is the most common cause of occasional bad breath. Components of foods such as garlic and onions enter your bloodstream, and they are released through your lungs when you exhale. That is why bad breath will linger even after you have brushed and flossed.
  • Tobacco use – Smoking or using smokeless tobacco products can directly cause bad breath due to chemicals in your mouth, as well as contributing to health conditions such as gum disease.
  • Hygiene – Failure to brush and floss properly leads to bad breath because of food particles and bacteria in your mouth. Like tobacco, this also increases your risk for gum disease and the accompanying bad breath.
  • Medical conditions – Gum disease is not the only medical cause of bad breath. It is also associated with xerostomia (dry mouth), acid reflux, postnasal drip, diabetes, and more.
  • Other Causes – Alcoholism, excess supplementation of certain vitamins, some prescription medications, and other factors can also contribute to bad breath.
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Prevention and treatment

Bad breath caused by food is temporary, and it can usually be controlled with good hygiene and breath mints. However, if the problem does not seem related to what you’ve eaten, it is advisable to discuss it with your dentist. In most cases, the solution revolves around improving your health and your hygiene habits. Brushing and flossing regularly, using a tongue scraper, and rinsing your mouth with water immediately after meals can go a long way toward freshening your breath.

If you have infection or oral disease, call Pleasant Dental® at (708) 576-1900 for more information, or to schedule a consultation. Dr. Dietrich has been providing quality care at an affordable price to residents of Dolton and surrounding areas for over 25 years.

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