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What Causes Bad Breath?

Halitosis, the proper name for bad breath, can be more than just an embarrassment: it can be an indication that there is something much more serious going on. While a lot of people simply try to hide it using mouthwash, mints, gums, and other things, if you have recurring bad breath, you may need to speak to a doctor about it. It’s very possible that you’ve got some other issue that these temporary solutions are never going to fix. Another issue could be your dental hygiene—you might need to see a dentist because you could have gingivitis or some other major dental issue. Here are some of the causes of bad breath and what you can do to deal with them.

Symptoms

Generally, the only symptoms of halitosis is breath that doesn’t smell that good. The symptoms of bad breath vary from person to person and depending on the cause. Some people find that they have bad breath after eating something and are very, very sensitive about it. Others may have horrible breath all the time and don’t realize that they do. That’s because it can be difficult to judge how good your own breath smells. Even the supposed spoon test (breathing on a spoon and then sniffing it) doesn’t really work that well. The only way to really get an opinion on your breath is to ask someone.

What Causes it?

There are a number of different things that can lead to bad breath:

The food you eat, especially if it’s food that already has a very strong smell such as garlic, onions, and certain spices. After you eat these types of food, they enter the bloodstream and actually move into the lungs, making your breath smell bad.

Smoking and using other types of tobacco can cause gum disease, which then causes bad breath.

Not brushing your teeth regularly often means that you have food particles stuck in your teeth, and those can lead to bad breath. A good amount of plaque on the teeth and gums can also cause gingivitis and other dental issues. One side effect of this issue is bad breath. Having an infection in your mouth may also cause bad breath.

Do you have dry mouth? If you don’t seem to have a good amount of saliva in your mouth, it can lead to bad breath. That’s because saliva naturally keeps the mouth clean by removing stray food particles. This is also why you are likely to wake up with bad breath—the mouth naturally dries up while you’re asleep. Some medications may also have dry mouth as a side effect.

There are a number of other diseases and conditions that can affect how your breath smells, including certain cancers and metabolic disorders. Acid reflux and other conditions that lead to nausea can affect how the breath smells because of how much stomach acid moves up into the throat.

Remember, bad breath isn’t always just a sign that you ate something weird or that you need to brush your teeth. It can mean something more serious, so if you have regular bad breath, get it checked out.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.