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20 Jan

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath can be an embarrassing issue for some individuals and may even lead to awkwardness in social settings. Knowing what causes bad breath is important because the problem could be a sign of a more serious dental or medical issue. Fortunately, there are a number of steps that you can take to treat bad breath and make your mouth clean and healthy.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is an unpleasant odor that is usually detected when a person exhales. There are many causes, but most bad breath starts in the mouth. The American Dental Association (ADA) notes the most common causes of bad breath:

Certain foods: Remnants of food that remain in your mouth following a meal can cause bad odor due to bacteria growth. Pungent foods, such as garlic, onions and some spices, affect your breath as they are digested and travel through your body.

Tobacco: Smoking cigarettes and cigars and using other tobacco products leaves a distinct, foul odor. In addition, consuming tobacco products increases your risk of oral and other cancers.

Poor oral hygiene and gum disease: When you skip brushing your teeth, flossing and cleaning your tongue, you allow food particles to remain in your mouth. The bacterial breakdown of these remnants of food can cause odor. In addition, growth of bacteria increases your risk of gum disease. If you use any dental appliances, such as retainers or dentures, clean them regularly. Don’t forget to change your toothbrush every 3 months or as recommended by your dentist.

Dry mouth: Saliva helps clean your mouth by clearing away food particles. If there is not enough saliva production, food particles that may cause bad odor are left in your mouth. The side effects of some medications, including dry mouth, may indirectly cause bad breath.

Medical conditions: Respiratory infections and inflammation of the sinuses, lungs or throat can lead to bad breath, especially when there is draining of mucus within the mouth and nose area. Other medical conditions that may cause bad breath include diabetes, some liver diseases and kidney disease.

*This is an abridged version of an article from Colgate

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