What Causes Bad Breath?

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath is a common problem to struggle with. In the mornings, it’s normal to experience bad breath, and it will usually go away with a drink of water and brushing your teeth. If the bad breath lasts throughout the day, or several days, there may be an underlying condition. In this article, we’ll go over what causes bad breath, medically called Halitosis, and what treatment is available.

What Causes Bad Breath? The Most Common Culprits

Bad breath is an issue that nobody likes having to deal with. Not only can it feel awkward not knowing if others can smell it, it may also be a source of discomfort to the person suffering from it. You may have a sour taste or dryness in your mouth or feel a constant need to clear your throat. In most cases, there’s a straightforward fix, but sometimes the root cause of the problem lies deeper.

If your bad breath is persistent and doesn’t go away, there may be an underlying medical condition. Many potential issues could be causing it, so if the condition persists, the best course of action is to book a check-up with a qualified dentist. This is especially the case if your teeth are also discoloured and sensitive, or other issues are present. However, here are some of the medical causes that may cause bad breath.

Gum disease

The number one cause of bad breath is gum disease. Without adequate dental hygiene, food particles remain in the mouth, allowing for the build-up of bacteria (plaque). Without regular brushing and oral hygiene, the plaque will begin to build up in pockets within the mouth, forming toxins and irritating the gums.

One of the main symptoms of periodontitis, the severe form of gum disease, is bad breath. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to much more severe symptoms than bad breath. This includes damage to the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth, and eventually tooth loss.

Plaque build-up

Often bad breath is simply due to a build-up of plaque in the mouth, tongue and gums. Plaque is a see-through, sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. It should be removed daily with brushing and flossing, so it doesn’t build up and harden into tartar.

Tooth decay and Infection

Other medical causes for bad breath include tooth decay and infection. A common chain of events is food getting trapped around wisdom teeth, which then become infected due to bacteria. If left unattended for a long time, the infection can then lead to cavities or tooth decay. If you’re experiencing bad breath as well as toothache and mouth sores, it’s time to get a dental check-up.

Dry mouth

Chronic dry mouth may be a symptom of problems with your salivary glands. It can also be a side effect of certain medications and diseases. In addition to bad breath, those suffering from a chronic dry mouth are at a higher risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Saliva protects the teeth, so when it’s lacking, tooth decay and gum disease can advance more rapidly. That’s why it’s crucial to see your dentist regularly if you suffer from a dry mouth.

Other medical causes

  • Gut problems – gases in your gut may cause bad breath
  • Conditions affecting the mouth, nose and throat
  • Extreme diets and anorexia nervosa
  • Diabetes


How to Get Rid of Bad Breath?

The best way to treat and prevent bad breath is with good and consistent oral hygiene habits. If the bad breath is not caused by an underlying health issue, it will usually go away with regular brushing and good hydration.

How to treat bad breath at home

  1. Carefully brush the teeth and tongue twice a day, for at least 2 minutes each time.
  2. Remember to floss daily.
  3. Drink plenty of water.
  4. Replace your toothbrush at least every 3 months.
  5. Mouthwash can also help, but it’s essential to address the root of the problem.

Diet habits can also add to bad breath. Everybody knows how strong the effect of certain foods, such as onion or garlic, is on the breath – but, their effect is only temporary. If this is of concern to you, you may want to cut these foods from your diet. It’s also a good idea to avoid sugary foods, as they’re generally not good for the health of your teeth.

Treating bad breath at the dentist

When visiting your dentist to treat bad breath, the dentist will examine your mouth thoroughly and talk through the issue with you. They will discuss with you any potential causes, including medications you’re taking. When you book a teeth cleaning and check-up, your dentist will also remove any plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth.

If the cause of the bad breath is a decayed or infected tooth, potential treatments include putting in a filling, root canal treatment or, in case of severe decay, tooth extraction.


Are you suffering from bad breath?

Continuous bad breath is not just a minor inconvenience, it can have significant ripple effects on the quality of life. From a dental health perspective, bad breath is an issue to take seriously, as it may be a sign of poor dental hygiene habits or an underlying condition. Poor dental hygiene, in turn, can lead to other health issues, such as gum disease.

If you’re suffering from bad breath, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist for a consultation and a check-up. At Dentistry on George, we offer complete and thorough check-ups that give your dental health the care and attention it deserves.

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