It is embarrassing if you have bad breath or halitosis. There are ways to cure it or at least mask the problem, but before you start treating it, it’s better to know the reason why you have bad breath. Some foods can cause halitosis, but it could also signal that you’re suffering from a serious illness.
Here are 10 causes of bad breath to help you effectively address the problem:
1. Poor oral hygiene
Bad dental hygiene is the most likely reason behind your bad breath. Halitosis is often the first sign of poor oral hygiene that may eventually lead to further periodontal problems. A good way to prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay is through at-home oral hygiene care and routine dental visits. So make sure you’re brushing and flossing daily.
Dehydration is the leading cause of bad breath other than poor dental hygiene, according to the Mayo Clinic. Not drinking enough water means food (and the bacteria that feed on it) hangs out in your mouth longer, breeding and heightening the stench. Fortunately, the fix is as simple as the problem: Drink more water!
3. Excessive outdoor exercising
While a breath of fresh air is certainly good for you, too much cold air in the winter dries out your mouth and in warmer months pollen and pollution wreak havoc. The end result can be bad breath related to allergies, nasal drainage, or chronic dry mouth. This doesn’t mean you should quit exercising, but rather that you might want to limit your time exercising outdoors when it’s very cold, during allergy season, or in polluted areas.
4. High heart disease risk
Gum disease and heart disease are closely linked, with gingivitis being an early warning sign of cardiovascular problems, according to a study done by the International & American Association for Dental Research. And one of the major signs of gum disease is bad breath. Treat your gum disease and not only do you ditch the noxious mouth fumes but you also improve your heart health.
5. You have strep throat
Strep is a bacterial infection, not a viral one, and those invading bugs can cause your bad breath to smell bad. Not only that, but other kinds of sinus infections can turn into bacterial ones that produce a smelly, pus-like type of mucus. Plus, some of these infections are also associated with specific types of bacteria that are known to produce a particularly bad odor in a person’s mouth.
6. High preterm delivery risk
Pregnant women need to pay particular attention to bad breath, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Women with gum disease (often signified by halitosis) are more likely to have premature or low birth weight babies. This is why it’s so important to stay on top of your dental hygiene and checkups when you’re expecting.
7. Stomach ulcer
When you think ulcers you probably think of terrible stomach pain, problems eating and heartburn. But you may be overlooking another common symptom of the malady: bad breath. Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria known to cause stomach ulcers and also responsible for a large proportion of gastric cancers, can also make your mouth mega malodorous, according to research published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.
You can now add bad breath to the list of health problems caused by being overweight, according to a study from Tel Aviv University. The researchers found that the more overweight a person is, the more likely their breath will smell unpleasant to others.
9. Your blood sugar is high
You probably don’t need to worry about this one unless you have type 1 diabetes; it’s pretty rare. But if your breath develops a sweet, almost sugary scent to it, that’s a sign that you might be experiencing diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threating condition for people with diabetes (usually type 1) that could cause a heart attack or kidney failure.
10. Excessive mouthwash use
Mouthwash is another product marketed to reduce bad breath that may actually make the problem worse. Most mouthwashes temporarily destroy bacteria, which may sound great until you realize they’re getting rid of all your oral bacteria. As your mouth repopulates you’re at risk for a bad bacteria overgrowth, according to experts. Plus the alcohol in mouthwash can dry out your mouth, another precursor for bad breath.