Bad Breath (Halitosis) – Causes, Treatments, Preventions

Excerpt: Bad breath by itself is not an indicator of an issue. However, chronic bad breath (halitosis) may be an...
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Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Bad breath (halitosis) is a condition where the main symptom is bad smelling breath, this can occur for a number of reasons. Bad breath may be temporary, as a result of food, or lifestyle choices, or it could be from infection or another serious health issue.

Bad breath by itself is not an indicator of an issue. However, chronic bad breath (halitosis) may be an indication that something isn’t functioning properly. This can be a problem for a number of reasons, it’s often quite embarrassing for someone with halitosis as other people might smell it and be bothered by it.

There is a checklist you can go through to troubleshoot the reason behind your halitosis as there isn’t one universal cause.

Normal Vs. Chronic Bad Breath

Normal bad breath is generally caused by eating foods with a distinct odor, these foods are pretty well known for this, here are a few:
 
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Cheese
  • Fish
 

There are a lot more than this, but these staple foods are in lots of cultures. If you’re eating these foods, just remember to carry a mint, gum, etc. and it will generally fix the smell on your breath. Your bad breath could come from neglect though, so if you are only brushing your teeth once a day in the morning, or every other day, increase the frequency and it might help.


It’s also completely normal to have bad breath in the morning for example, commonly referred to as “morning breath”. You can brush your teeth and mouth wash to take care of this problem.

It’s also very common to have bad breath from your daily habits. 


Some of these habits include:


  • Frequent alcohol use
  • Smoking tobacco or cannabis products
  • Orally ingesting other tobacco products
  • Having a bad diet
  • Not brushing your tongue
 
To find out if any of these are causing your bad breath issues you should decrease the frequency of use to see if that fixes the problem.

Does bad breath mean health problems?

It depends on the severity, circumstance, and frequency of the bad breath. If there’s no obvious cause for your bad breath, and it happens on a regular basis then it’s most likely a health issue. However, it may or may not be a severe health issue. Always consult your dentist first if you suspect there might be problems.

 

Certain diseases and illnesses will lead to bad breath, if you are afflicted with any of these, then it may cause your halitosis.

 

  • Respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis
  • Long-term (chronic) sinus infections
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Chronic acid reflux
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Chronic lung infection
  • Liver or kidney problems
  • Postnasal drip
  • Diabetes
 
If you are inflicted with a dry mouth or have issues with saliva production, this can cause your breath to have odors as well. Saliva helps digest food, this means it also helps carry food from your mouth to your stomach. If there is no saliva, then the food may not travel to where it’s supposed to.

Can bad breath be prevented?

Yes, most cases of bad breath are a result of your daily habits or food intake. If you are consuming odor-rich foods or beverages on a day-to-day basis then it may be hard to tell if what you’re doing will work. Bad breath as a result of food intake can last up to three days in some cases as it will still be producing odors while digesting it.


Here are some guaranteed ways to stop most cases of bad breath:


  • Practice a good oral hygiene routine 
  • Go to the dentist regularly – This will prevent plaque and tartar build-up, if you need more reasons for regular checkups.
  • Stop smoking and using tobacco – Smoking any substance will cause you to have bad breath, smoking tobacco is just generally harmful to your health.
  • Stay hydrated regularly – This will promote saliva production which will aid in food digestion.
  • Eat more vegetables & fruits – They have natural chemicals that reduce body odors in humans and will aid you in improving your diet, leaving less room for bad food.
  • Track your consumption – If you’re really concerned write down what you eat and when you eat it, and compare it with your bad breath. Food journals can be incredibly useful in health improvements overall. In the same journal write down how your breath smells. If you notice a correlation between a certain food and really bad odors then you can start experimenting with cutting them out.

Who can help cure my bad breath?

Typically speaking, your dentist can help you with stopping your bad breath. They are trained in this area and are very aware of what to look out for. Since bad breath is a common issue, the dentist will most likely have experience in curing the issue.

The odor may be caused by cavities, gum disease, or other oral inflictions. The dentist should fairly easily spot the issue if this is the reason.
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