Although the smell of your breath cannot be seen, it can still affect how people perceive your smile. It doesn’t matter how good your smile looks if you have bad breath, unfortunately that is the first thing many people will notice first. However, the American Dental Association reports that 50% of Americans have had bad breath at some point in their lifetime, so if you have bad breath you are not alone.
The good news is that bad breath is normally caused by a variety of factors that can usually be treated. When you have bad breath, the first thing you will want to do is figure out what the cause of your bad breath is. This may require you to carefully observe certain things and/or visit your dentist for more insight. Once you have identified the variable causing your bad breath, then you can address it appropriately to reduce or eliminate foul odors. There are a range of things that can cause bad breath, but here are some of the most common:
Poor Oral Hygiene
Of course, one of the first main causes of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. Remember that the American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily. Anything less than this is not enough to properly clean your teeth and gums. This can mean that bacteria is being left in your mouth, on the surface of your teeth, or in hard to reach spaces. Bacteria also reside in dental plaque, which is left behind when you don’t brush or floss. Additionally, if you have dental restorations like dentures, you will need to wash them thoroughly every night to prevent bacteria from accumulating and causing a foul odor.
Unfortunately, if you have poor oral hygiene you are increasing your risk of developing gum disease. Gum disease occurs when excess plaque accumulates along the gum line and causes the gums to become inflamed. If plaque is left untreated, then it can harden into tartar, which will then cause small pockets to form in between your teeth and gums. These pockets will trap food and bacteria, which results in a strong odor.
The things you eat and drink can also affect your breath, although this tends to have a more temporary effect. Foods like garlic and onions contain oils that are absorbed by the stomach and passed into the lungs. This ultimately means that your breath can have an odd smell for about 72 hours after consuming garlic and/or onions. Drinking coffee can also produce bad breath since coffee has a strong odor.
Your mouth naturally produces saliva as a way of keeping itself clean. Unfortunately, there are certain medical conditions and medications that can cause a condition known as dry mouth. This condition is characterized by a decrease in saliva production. When your body produces less saliva, your mouth cannot stay as clean. This means that you are more likely to have bad breath.
Smoking causes a range of problems that affect your oral and overall health. For starters, cigarettes have a foul odor themselves, which will linger on your breath after smoking. Additionally, smoking causes dry mouth, which reduces your mouth’s ability to clean itself and increases odor.
Bad breath can also be associated with conditions that affect the sinuses, tonsils, nasal cavity, bronchial tubes, or the upper and lower respiratory system. In some cases, bad breath can also be a symptom of medical conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).