5 Surprising Causes of Bad Breath (and What to Do About It)

5 Surprising Causes of Bad Breath (and What to Do About It)
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Anyone can suffer from bad breath at some point in their lives. It can sometimes be caused by eating foods with strong flavors, or it may have been a while since you last brushed your teeth or used a mouthwash.

Bad breath, which is sometimes called halitosis, is a common complaint for about a third of the population and is primarily caused by bacteria that live in our mouths. These bacteria break down food and proteins in our mouths, but in doing so release volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that can have a powerful odor.

Here we are going to look at five causes of bad breath that you may not have considered, and what you can do about them.

Plaque Left After Brushing

Plaque forms on our teeth and gums after eating and drinking, and can lead to the production of volatile sulfur compounds in your mouth.

Seeing a dentist regularly is important, as a professional dental hygienist will remove plaque from your teeth and gum line as a part of your visit. They can only remove it temporarily, however, and without regular brushing and flossing, the plaque will return. Make sure you include flossing and an anti-bacterial mouthwash as parts of your home dental care regime.

Bacteria on Your Tongue

The tongue, especially the back of your tongue, is the perfect place for bacteria to live and thrive in your mouth, producing volatile sulfur compounds.

Tongue brushes and scrapers can help reduce the number of bacteria living on your tongue, but you will often struggle to reach the back of your mouth and tongue without gagging. This is where gargling with mouthwash can be a game changer. Regularly doing this can be very effective at reducing the bacteria count in the back of your mouth, reducing odor.

Dry Mouth from Mouth Breathing

Having a dry mouth can be a major cause of bad breath. Saliva is our body’s natural deterrent against bacteria, as it washes it away and can break down the proteins that bacteria feed on.

Many people suffer from dry mouth because of mouth breathing or snoring at night. The passage of air through your mouth can dry it out, reducing the amount of saliva in your mouth and letting the bacteria take over. Snoring strips make it easy to reduce dry mouth, and reduce your bad breath with it.

Eating Strong Foods Like Garlic and Onions

Foods with a strong flavor, such as garlic and onions, have high concentrations of sulfur compounds that can give your breath a bad smell that lingers.

Brushing after meals is always recommended by oral hygienists, and after a strong flavored meal this is especially recommended. If you can’t brush them, chewing a sugar free gum can help you produce more saliva to help control the bacteria in your mouth, and give your breath a fresh and minty scent.

An Underlying Medical Condition or Dieting

Some medical and dietary conditions can give you bad breath, or increase the number of volatile sulfur compounds being produced in your mouth.

Some conditions like diabetes and lactose intolerance can cause bad breath. If you are dieting, then ketosis can produce bad breath smells. If you have increased the amount of protein in your diet, your body might be in ketosis, explaining a change in the smell of your breath.

If you have persistent bad breath, you should consult your dentist and your doctor. There may be an underlying medical condition that can explain the bad breath, or your mouth may need professional attention in order to combat the odor.


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