What Causes Bad Breath & How Can You Get Rid of It?

June 27, 2017

breath mintsIf you’re reading this, there’s a chance you have halitosis, or bad breath—80 million of us do.

In order to fix this issue, you must first figure out if there is an issue to fix. This sounds simple, but smelling your own breath is actually pretty tricky. Because our mouths and noses work so closely together, your brain ignores the way your breath smells.

Use the Spoon Test to Check Your Breath

Luckily, there is an easy way to evaluate your breath. All you need is a spoon. Follow these steps:

  1. Lick the back of the spoon.
  2. Allow the saliva to dry
  3. Smell the spoon—that’s what your breath smells like.

If you’re not happy with the results, fear not. We all have smelly breath at one time or another, and there are ways to change it.

Factors That Lead to Bad Breath

Now that you know you have bad breath, it’s time to assess the situation. Reviewing this list of potential causes will help you stop halitosis in its tracks.

  1. Poor Oral Hygiene: Bacteria in your mouth, called plaque, can cause tooth decay. As the bacteria eat away at your teeth, they release odor-causing gas. The best way to keep plaque from ruining your teeth and giving you bad breath is to brush daily and floss twice a day.
  2. Dry Mouth: Dry mouth is the result of having too little saliva. One of saliva’s many functions is to rinse away dead skin cells and bacteria from your mouth. When your saliva isn’t around to do that job, this can lead to a buildup of plaque and dead skin, leaving you with smelly breath.
  3. Gum Disease: The buildup of plaque associated with gum disease and the resulting toxins can cause a foul odor.
  4. Poorly Fitting Dentures and Other Appliances: Poorly fitting appliances leave spaces that are ideal for smelly bacteria to grow in. It’s also important to thoroughly wash your dental appliances often to remove any lingering smells.
  5. Skipping Your Dental Check-Ups: Your dentures need to be replaced every so often, since your mouth changes as you age. The gaps in your dentures are the perfect place for bacteria to thrive. The same is true for retainers and other appliances, so make sure you keep them clean and that you see your dentist regularly to check their fit.
  6. Smoking: Smoking leaves behind particles that can scent your breath with a stale odor. More than 60 odor-causing chemicals, or aromatic hydrocarbons, are present in the smoke.
  7. Other Health Problems: Halitosis is a symptom for several medical issues such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, acid reflux, and liver and kidney problems.

Why is “Garlic Breath” so Resilient?

red onionsAs food breaks down in your stomach, the smell of your food can mix with your breath. This is why odors from pungent foods like garlic and onions can stick around for so long. Even if you brush, floss, and use mouthwash, you will only be masking the odor. The truth is, your onion and garlic breath will linger until the food is completely digested.

Call Your Dentist if the Problem Persists

If you evaluate your breath from all the angles in our list of factors and still experience chronic bad breath, you may truly have a chronic issue that requires a dentist’s help. Call your dentist’s office if the problem continues. If you’re in the Colorado Springs area, feel free to contact our office!