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What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath, also known as halitosis or malodor, is a common condition experienced by many. While some only experience it on occasion, others may deal with it chronically, as a daily issue. Persistent bad breath can be a serious social hindrance, lowering a person's self-esteem over time. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple tricks and effective treatments to prevent it.To help you identify and correct any possible occurrences, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common bad breath triggers. Need a checkup soon?

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Woman Covering Her Mouth

  • Poor Oral Hygiene. Failing to floss and brush routinely is a common cause of bad breath. Cleaning out the leftover food particles in your mouth can significantly reduce the presence of odor-causing bacteria.
  • Tobacco Products. Constant use of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, is known to cause an unpleasant oral odor. Beyond drying out the mouth and creating a welcoming environment for odorous bacteria, tobacco products can lead to gum disease, which is another condition that causes bad breath.
  • Sugary Sweets. Food and beverages high in sugar, particularly sticky desserts such as caramel, can settle into a person's teeth grooves. That ingrained sugar is fed upon by the mouth’s bacteria, releasing sour smells in the process.
  • Low-Carb Diets. Popular low-carb diets, such as the ketogenic diet, can change the body’s metabolism and cause bad breath. Eating a more nutritious, balanced diet is more recommended.
  • Dehydration. The mouth's ability to produce saliva is a crucial part of the food digestion process. Dehydration can impair that ability, causing your mouth to dry out and lead to bad breath.
  • Alcohol. Consuming alcoholic beverages or frequently using an alcohol-based mouthwash can dehydrate your mouth. Avoid bad breath brought about by dehydration by limiting alcohol consumption and drinking plenty of water.
  • Digestive Issues. Even the most common digestive issues, such as acid reflux, can contribute to odorous breath. These issues cause odors from food to travel back up the esophagus and out of the mouth.
  • Medications. Prescription medications often possess several less than ideal side-effects, one of the most common being dry mouth. Furthermore, some medicines release chemicals into the body as they break down, which are then carried to the mouth and exhaled.
  • Snoring. Chronic bad breath can be a symptom of snoring because breathing through the mouth can dry it out. Using nasal spray or strips before bed can help open up the nose’s airways, preventing snoring.
  • Coffee. Coffee is acidic, dehydrating, and often loaded with sugars from sweeteners and creamer. Cutting sugary products from your daily cup of joe and drinking plenty of water afterward can help combat coffee breath.
  • Gum Disease. Persistent bad breath is often a symptom of gum disease, also known as periodontitis, a common condition preventable with routine brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings.
  • Cavities. As if tooth decay wasn’t scary enough as it is, it can also cause halitosis, as plaque made up of food particles and bacteria accumulate in the cavity, leading to bad breath.