What Causes Bad Breath?

Phoenix DentistEveryone has bad breath on occasion—but if your morning breath comes back a few hours after you brush, you have halitosis or malodor, two names for chronic bad breath. You may not even know you have it, as most people won’t tell you, but it’s good to check. How to find out? Ask your significant other or a trusted friend and tell them you need to know the truth.

“All bad breath comes from the same source—bacteria,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dental office. “Whether it’s gum disease or some other reason, it comes down to bacteria creating gases, including sulfur, that causes a bad odor,” Dr. Ford explains.

There is a sure way to know if you have bad breath without involving anyone else. Look at your floss. If it is bloody or smells bad, you have bad breath, whether or not you notice it.

The website WebMD says that 80 percent of bad breath is the result of oral causes—cavities, gum disease, poor hygiene.  But there are other causes as well. Post-nasal drip is the same thing as a runny nose, but the mucus runs down your throat instead of out your nose. Whether it’s caused by a cold or allergies, post-nasal drip contains bacteria and if they multiply in the nasal- or sinus cavities, you will develop bad breath.

If you still have tonsils, they can trap bacteria that lead to bad breath, too. Acid reflux and bronchitis are two other bacteria producers. The bacteria can grow in the esophagus and then into your mouth via acid reflux. In the case of bronchitis, the bacteria are in your lungs and you expel their decaying odor through your lungs and breath.

Eating certain foods (garlic and onions, for example) can cause chemical reactions that release sulfur gases into your mouth. Smoking cigarettes , chewing tobacco and drinking liquor without brushing your teeth can leave a stale taste in your mouth as bacteria multiply and overrun the beneficial bacteria. Some foods, including garlic and some spices used in curries are carried into perspiration and cause additional body odors.

“Some medications can cause dry mouth, which invite bacterial to overgrow,” says Dr. Ford. “That’s why regular dental visits are important. You can’t remove all the plaque yourself, and regular hygienist visits will help your mouth stay clean and your smile bright,” she adds.

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