What Causes Bad Breath?

I don't blame you for wanting to know what causes bad breath and more importantly, how you can get rid of it. After all, we’ve all had conversations with someone whose breath makes us want to shrink back into the corner, while politely trying to concentrate on their words rather than the odor. Perhaps you're concerned now that you're the one from whom others would like to shrink away.

Bad breath, which goes by the medical name of halitosis or fetor oris, usually originates in the mouth. Smelly breath is exacerbated when the mouth is dry, such as when taking certain medications, under stressful conditions, or even during fasting. The consumption of alcohol will also dry out oral tissue, resulting in bad breath, or making it worse if it's already present. Since the mouth tends to dry out overnight, bad breath is often more noticeable in the morning.

The answer to the question what causes bad breath won't always be bacteria. Some foods can also make your halitosis worse. In particular, foods like garlic or onions that contain strong-smelling oils contribute to smelly breath. These foods make your breath malodorous because they are carried to your lungs and expelled with each breath. Smokers or those who drink excessive amounts of coffee may also have transient bad breath. In many cases, rinsing with mouth wash or brushing and flossing your teeth can temporarily mask the odor.

For some people, halitosis is more persistent. In these situations, the source of the smell may not always be the mouth. However, the most common cause of bad breath is odor-producing bacteria that inhabit the mouth. As part of their normal metabolism these bacteria produce sulfur. Sulfurous gases are what make eggs smell rotten and are also what makes your breath smell bad. The bacteria typically populate the posterior dorsum of the tongue because this part of the tongue is relatively dry and undisturbed by normal activity. Here, the bacteria feed on food remnants, dead epithelial (skin) cells and post-nasal drip (the mucous which drains from your nose to the back of your throat).

When considering what causes bad breath, it's important to note that the nose and tonsils may also play a role. In certain conditions, such as during a sinus infection or when a foreign body becomes trapped in a nostril, the air expelled from the nostrils can be malodorous. Tonsilloliths, or tonsil stones, can also contribute to bad breath. Certain systemic conditions are also capable of producing bad breath. Diabetics commonly suffer from fruity-smelling breath, which is caused by the production of ketones – metabolic compounds normally produced in the fasting state. Lower respiratory tract infections and renal failure can also cause bad breath.

In many cases, maintaining good oral hygiene can eliminate smelly breath. Regular tooth brushing and flossing is essential for controlling halitosis. Anti-bacterial mouthwashes and toothpastes can also assist with controlling oral bacteria. If these treatments do not wholly eradicate the odor, speak to your dentist. A thorough dental examination can rule out any gum disease or tooth decay that may be contributing to bad breath. Your dentist may recommend antibiotics to kill oral bacteria.

Bad breath can have a significant impact on your personal and social life, so now that you know what causes bad breath, it's important that you take immediate action to resolve the condition. If you suffer from bad breath, speak to your dentist and doctor and enlist their help in preparing the treatment that will work best for you. Or you could simply visit the TheraBreath web site and begin using the products that have helped me and thousands of other sufferers eliminate bad breath.


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