What causes bad breath?
Some people worry about having bad breath – even though they don’t have it, while others who have bad breath don’t even realise it. Bad breath varies depending on the source and the cause of bad breath. It’s hard for you to work out how bad your breath does – or doesn’t smell, so ask a close friend or family member to confirm with you if there is an odour issue.
If you find you do have issues with bad breath one of the first things to do is review your oral hygiene habits, drink plenty of water, use dental floss, try brushing your tongue after eating and brush your teeth twice a day. If you make these changes and find you still have bad breath visit your dentist. He or she will be able to take a look and if they find there is another reason for your bad breath you may be referred to your doctor to find the cause of the odour.
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- Bad breath starts in your mouth and there are many possible causes including
- Food – Eating certain foods such as spices, onions and garlic can cause bad breath. After you digest foods such as these they enter your blood stream and are – in turn, carried to your lungs, which can affect your breath as the breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth can cause a build-up of bacteria that can cause bad breath.
- Poor dental hygiene – if you don’t brush and floss daily food particles can remain trapped in your mouth causing bad breath. A colourless and sticky film of bacteria – known as plaque – forms on your teeth. If plaque isn’t brushed away from your teeth it can irritate your gums and eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums. Your tongue can also trap bacteria and dentures that aren’t cleaned regularly, or don’t fit properly can also harbour bacteria and food particles that can lead to bad breath odour.
- Smoking – tobacco causes its own unpleasant mouth odour. Smokers are more likely to have gum disease – which, is another source of bad breath.
- Dry mouth – the saliva in your mouth helps keep your mouth cleansed which in turn removes the particles that can cause bad breath. Dry mouth occurs naturally while you sleep which leads to *morning breath* which can be made worse if you sleep with your mouth open. Chronic dry mouth can be caused by a problem with the saliva glands and some diseases.
- Medications – some medications cause bad breath by contributing to dry mouth, while other medications are broken down in the body to release chemicals that in turn can be carried by your breath.
- Mouth infections – bad breath can occur following dental surgery – such as the removal of a tooth, or as a result of gum disease, mouth sore or from tooth decay.