Causes of Bad Breath

Causes of Bad Breath

Everyone deals with bad breath at some point in their lives (like morning breath), and many people experience chronic bad breath that doesn’t go away easily. While bad breath can be bothersome by itself, the fact that you can’t get rid of it can make the situation that much more stressful. Thankfully, dealing with bad breath is typically easy with help from your dentist. To help you understand why you shouldn’t hesitate to seek treatment, we explore a few interesting facts about bad breath, its common causes, and the most effective treatment options.

If you are battling bad breath that is affecting your quality of life, we can help! Dr. James Fondriest practices comprehensive dentistry in Lake Forest, IL, and can help determine the cause of your bad breath as well as the most effective treatment. Don’t let bad breath keep you from laughing, smiling, or talking freely; contact our practice today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fondriest.

Poor Dental Habits Cause Halitosis

What are the causes of bad breath? Flossing and brushing your teeth daily will prevent food particles from becoming lodged between teeth and gums. Without complete oral hygiene, the food debris left behind will start to attract bacteria and decompose in your mouth, creating a foul odor. Additionally, scraping your tongue is vital to removing the bacteria deposits that collect on the taste buds on back of your tongue. You can use a tongue scraper or the bristles of your toothbrush to scrub your tongue. Most modern toothbrushes come with a tongue scraper on the back side of the brush.

Tooth Decay Causes Mouth Odors

While poor dental habits will cause initial bad breath, they can also lead to prolonged foul odors due to dental caries. Tooth decay is often a result of poor oral hygiene. When bacteria collects in the mouth it can form plaque which combines with saliva to create acid. Tooth enamel erodes with acid formation, creating an environment for cavities and tooth decay. Often, bad breath will be an indicator of decaying material and bacteria attacking your tooth.

Bad Breath is Caused by Dry Mouth

The scientific name for dry mouth is xerostomia. Dry mouth is sometimes a result of salivary  gland conditions, a side effect of certain medications, or continued mouth breathing. Your saliva is vital to keeping the mouth hydrated, balancing the acid levels in your mouth, and washing away dead cells. Decomposing dead cells that collect on the soft tissues of your mouth create a foul odor. You can treat your dry mouth condition by changing certain medications which cause dry mouth or drinking water frequently.

Infection Can Cause Halitosis

Illnesses like pneumonia, bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, diabetes, post-nasal drip, acid reflux, and kidney and liver problems are all contributors to bad breath. Often, bad breath is a sign that you have a health complication. Do not ignore chronic bad breath, but ask your Chicago area dentist what may be causing your specific condition.

Other Causes of Bad Breath

Some of the above causes of bad breath are immediately obvious. Waking up in the morning with less than fresh breath is normal, since saliva production slows down while you sleep. During the night, your oral bacteria can grow and spread more easily, leading to an increase in waste production that can smell unpleasant. In addition, eating a meal full of garlic, onions, or other odorous foods can leave lingering smells in your mouth long after chewing stops. These are normal causes of temporary bad breath and are not concerning. Others, however, are not so obvious. For lingering bad breath, other causes may be to blame:

  • Bacteria: Harmful oral bacteria are responsible for more than just destructive tooth decay and gum disease; they can also be the source of your bad breath. After you eat and drink, oral bacteria found in plaque can use leftover starches on your teeth and gums as fuel. Your mouth’s natural condition makes it a perfect place for oral bacteria to grow and thrive. Combined with improper brushing and a diet high in carbohydrates and sugars, bad breath can be a sign that you need to intervene with destructive oral bacteria growth. It is also important to keep your toothbrush clean.
  • Periodontal Disease: otherwise known as gum disease, this infection and inflammation of the supportive tissues in the mouth is caused by excessive plaque and tartar. If your bad breath is accompanied by tender, swollen, or bleeding gums, you should schedule and appointment right away to eliminate periodontal disease before the infection spreads further.
  • Dry Mouth: a lack of saliva from certain medicine, breathing issues or even salivary gland conditions can dry out the mouth. A dry mouth cannot properly remove leftover food debris or fight against plaque and tartar build-up. Your mouth’s bad breath may be a sign that your mouth is not maintaining a proper environment for your teeth and gums.
  • Medical Conditions: The health of your mouth can be affected by a vast number of other conditions in your body. Sinus issues, digestive problems, diabetes, or even kidney disease can all alter the smell of your breath. If you have strong oral health but still battle bad breath, another medical condition outside of the mouth could be to blame. Be sure to tell Dr. Fondriest about any pre-existing medical conditions you are aware of.

If you wait to address the causes of your chronic bad breath, or any other sign of dental trouble, then the condition will only grow worse. If your breath doesn’t improve after brushing and flossing your teeth more consistently, then it could be a sign of a dental disease that has already developed.

Banishing Hygiene Related Bad Breath

To eliminate bad breath, take a good look at your oral hygiene routine and diet. Try to avoid certain foods that will cause lingering odors, and make it a habit to brush for two minutes, twice a day. Always finish your brushing routine by brushing the tongue, as far back as comfortable, in order to remove bacteria on its surface. Floss once a day to remove food debris that could be trapped in hard to reach areas of the mouth. Consider introducing a mouthwash which can also help to reach bacteria in every area of the mouth. In addition, if you wear any sort of dental appliance such as a retainer, mouth guard, dentures, or bridge, give it a deep clean. These appliances can become host to bacteria build-up, and may be contributing to your mouth’s odor.

If these practices don’t help your breath, it’s likely time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fondriest. He can help you locate the cause of your bad breath or treat any oral health issues which could be contributing to the smell. Don’t put off bad breath. While it can be an embarrassing or annoying symptom, lingering bad breath is often a sign that something is not functioning properly within the mouth or body.

Did you know?

You probably know the term “halitosis” as a condition of unpleasant breath. But did you know that Listerine introduced the word halitosis into American culture? Though “halitosis” was actually from an old Latin term, it was not known or used until Listerine started advertising the term to bring attention to its product in the 1920s. Not surprisingly, Listerine’s sales improved greatly after employing the idea, and the term has stuck around for years afterwards!

Learn more about the causes of bad breath

While morning breath or bad breath after a garlic-filled meal are completely normal, other types of lingering bad breath could be indicative of a medical condition which needs attention. If you’re suffering from embarrassing or unpleasant bad breath and cannot find a solution, contact our Lake Forest, IL practice to schedule a consultation with Dr. James Fondriest. As past President of the North Suburban Dental Society of Chicago and member of numerous international dental associations, Dr. Fondriest has the experience and knowledge to help you achieve your oral health and cosmetic goals. Our practice mostly serves the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs, but we often get patients from all over the United States. Call us at 847-234-0517.We look forward to seeing you soon!

Dr Fondriest is a Nationally recognized and highly sought after cosmetic dentist. He serves clients from throughout the United States