What Causes Bad Breath?
Come on, admit it. You’ve suffered from bad breath. Everyone has. It’s one of life’s most common annoyances. The good news is we can do something about it. But first, you need to know where it comes from.
The Beginnings of Bad Breath
Bad breath starts by what you put in your mouth. Garlic for lunch? A late morning latte? They may taste delicious but consider yourself warned.
Food you eat: Although garlic and coffee are two main offenders, other eats like onions and spicy food can bring on bad breath. The odors of these foods enter your bloodstream and head right to your lungs, coming out with each exhale.
Food "trapped" in your mouth: We're not talking about a little spinach on your teeth. After a meal, any food particles that remain between your teeth, in your gums, and on your tongue can release their odor into your breath -- which gets worse as that food decays. And without good care of your teeth and gums, this stuck food can set off a cascade of events leading to gum disease.
Tobacco: There are lots of reasons to avoid tobacco; bad breath is another on the list.
Diets that lead to weight loss: We agree that it seems unjust, but when your body breaks down fat, the process releases chemicals that can give your breath an unpleasant smell.
Dry mouth: Feeling parched? Saliva’s job is to serve as a continuous rinse cycle for your mouth. If you don’t have enough, your mouth loses its freshness fast. In fact, morning breath is worse for people who sleep with their mouths open. A dry mouth is a smelly mouth.
Medications or health issues: Drugs that cause dry mouth can also contribute to bad breath. Health problems such as seasonal allergies, chronic sinusitis, bronchitis, respiratory infections, stomach problems, diabetes, and liver and kidney diseases factor in, too. Unrelenting bad breath may also be a sign of gum disease.
How to Make Your Breath Better
There are some quick and easy ways to banish bad breath. Just remember, the odor from what you eat sticks around until the food works its way completely out of your system -- up to three days later!
Clean those teeth: Not only does it prevent odor-causing plaque from building up in your mouth; it’s healthy for your gums and teeth, too. If you can’t brush after a meal, give your mouth a good rinse with water to at least loosen up and free those trapped bits.
Clean that tongue: Bacteria on your tongue can contribute to bad breath. When you brush your teeth, brush your tongue, too, or use a tongue scraper.
Use a mouthwash or dental rinse. Mouthwashes don't typically relieve bad breath for long. But some specialized rinses can help kill bacteria that cause bad breath and help with other underlying issues. Antimicrobial mouth rinses, for instance, help kill plaque-causing bacteria that can lead to gingivitis, an early, mild form of gum disease. Adding a fluoride rinse to your daily routine can help prevent tooth decay.