Bad breath, officially known as halitosis, is the third most common dental condition seen in the dentist office. In fact, according to Colgate, over 60 million people suffer from chronic bad breath. That means if you happen to find yourself suffering from it, you’re not alone. Rather than being ashamed or embarrassed, it’s important to understand what exactly causes it so that you can begin to work towards a healthier mouth.
What Causes Bad Breath?
Bad breath has a lot of causes, some that you can’t directly control. The most common source is an external factor, though. If you eat a particularly odorous food, such as garlic, or smoke or chew tobacco, then that can affect your breath on a short-term basis. These instances can, for the most part, be fixed by brushing your teeth or chewing a piece of sugar-free gum. If you suffer from chronic bad breath, though, you may find that yours persists even after brushing your teeth. If this is the case, your halitosis may be caused by anything from genetics to poor oral hygiene habits that can be corrected.
Does Genetics Affect It?
When most people think about the causes of bad breath, they don’t often think about genetics. However, after 25 years of research, a new study has found that genetics, specifically the mutation of one particular gene, can cause chronic bad breath. This means that if you suffer from this mutation you can also pass it onto your children. With this, your body breaks down certain chemicals differently. You may find that your body isn’t breaking down sulfur (the chemical compound that gives rotten eggs their smell) and other odorous chemicals efficiently, leaving you with chronic bad breath.
Thankfully, though, this uncurable condition is fairly rare, and it only affects one in every 90,000 people.
Can Health Issues Cause It?
Absolutely! In fact, the amount of health-related cases of halitosis can be surprising. Any kind of infections, such as a sinus infection, pneumonia, sore throat, bronchitis, or other chronic health issues, like diabetes or acid reflux, can cause bad breath. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, can also cause it.
There are two main reasons that this gives you bad breath. First, in a severe case of infection or disease, your mouth cells and tissues will be unhealthy or even decaying, giving off a foul odor. On the other hand, if you have an infection, that means that there are bacteria living in your body that are not supposed to be there. Bacteria are living creatures, so while they are in your body, they may be producing foul-smelling gases that can affect your breath.
How Does Poor Hygiene Cause It?
Bacteria can also grow in your mouth if you have poor hygiene, causing your breath to not smell great. Even if you don’t have bacteria growing, however, poor hygiene can still cause it. If you’re brushing or flossing your teeth incorrectly, or neglecting to do so at all, you can leave food particles in your mouth. These can eventually rot, and if they attract bacteria to your mouth, that alone can cause bad breath. Poor dental hygiene can also increase your chances for oral diseases such as periodontal disease or even tooth decay. These conditions can also cause it, just as mentioned above.
If you suspect that any of these reasons are why you have bad breath, don’t worry. While you may not always be able to cure your chronic halitosis, there are things you can do to treat the troublesome odor.
Can You Treat It?
If you’re one of one in 90,000 people with the genetics for halitosis, sadly, there is no cure. If you have a health issue that is causing your bad breath, though, seeking treatment for that health issue can help treat it. The easiest form of bad breath to treat is that caused by poor hygiene. Taking the extra time to thoroughly brush, floss, and use mouthwash twice a day will greatly improve your oral health, reducing bad breath. You can also use breath strips or chew gum throughout the day for added help.
How Can You Get Rid of Bad Breath?
Depending on the cause, you can indeed improve your breath. By either treating the medical condition causing it or improving your dental hygiene habits, you’ll find that it will either be cured completely or decreased significantly. It’s important to brush, floss, and use mouthwash daily to prevent both chronic bad breath and oral health conditions that can cause pain in the future.
If you’re interested in learning more about the causes and treatments of bad breath, as well as getting a cleaning to remove any buildup that could be causing it, contact our practice today to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (614) 399-9381.