It happens to all of us. You eat a flavorful lunch, and later, you can smell it on your breath. Or, you are chatting with a friend and feel the urge to put your hand over your mouth. Occasional bad breath is nothing to worry about. Typically, something minor causes it, and brushing your teeth will do the trick.
However, sometimes bad breath–also called halitosis–indicates a more significant problem. You should talk to your dentist if your bad breath keeps coming back. Together, both of you can get to the bottom of what’s causing your halitosis. It is important to be open and honest with your dentist to solve the issue.
One of the most common reasons for bad breath is poor oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth are vital parts of your daily oral care routine. If you fail to do this adequately, you could be leaving harmful bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria live in your mouth naturally, but your oral care keeps them from getting out of hand.
The bacteria in your mouth feed on the leftover food particles from your diet. In turn, the bacteria release acid as it eats. Unfortunately, the acid will begin to break down the enamel on your teeth. The enamel is what protects the inner portions of your teeth and fights against decay. However, if the enamel gets damaged, your teeth are vulnerable to developing cavities or gum disease.
Brushing and flossing your teeth will not only keep your mouth healthy, but it will also keep your breath fresh. But unfortunately, the same bacteria that destroys the enamel will also cause bad breath.
Along with poor hygiene, infections can also cause bad breath. An infection in any part of your mouth or throat can create bad breath. Conditions, such as gum disease or advanced tooth decay, lead to bad breath. As parts of your teeth or soft tissue begin to decay, it releases a foul odor (and taste).
Bad breath is not the only thing to worry about with an infection. With an infection, you can experience pain and discomfort. If left untreated, infections can spread to other areas. This can create a much larger area for your dentist to treat. Additionally, it can move to other parts of your body through your bloodstream.
It may not cross your mind, but dry mouth can cause bad breath. Your mouth needs to be moist to be healthy. If your mouth is too dry, bacteria will multiply. Many people don’t know how vital saliva is for their oral health. Saliva not only keeps your mouth moist, but it also neutralizes acids that decay your teeth and gums.
Without enough saliva, bacteria will thrive, creating a foul odor. However, there are simple solutions to dry mouth, such as drinking more water, chewing gum, or using a special mouthwash.