Do you ever get that horrible feeling that you have bad breath? It is something most of us are self-conscious and embarrassed about. While a lot of bad breath can be attributed to coffee, cigarettes, or garlic, there are other factors that can give your breath a bad odor.
- The majority of bad breath results from something occurring in your mouth—in addition to the food you eat, bad breath can be caused by gum disease, trapped food particles or an infection/abscess in your mouth. Bad breath can also be caused by tonsil stones–debris that gets trapped in your tonsils and calcifies to become small white formations. You may be more susceptible to tonsil stones if you have routine inflammation of your tonsils. Contact your dentist if you have pain, swelling, bleeding gums, cracked teeth or suspect you have tonsil stones.
- Respiratory tract infections—chronic bronchitis, strep throat and other respiratory tract infections can be attributed to bad breath. Once you are prescribed medication by your physician to treat the infection, the bad breath should lessen.
- Chronic acid reflux or GERD—Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is a digestive disorder that results in reflux, a condition where the stomach’s contents come back up into the esophagus. In addition to its common symptom of heartburn, this condition can also produce bad breath. If you suffer from chronic acid reflux or GERD, your doctor may suggest dietary changes or medication to improve your symptoms.
- Dry Mouth—certain medications can reduce the saliva in your mouth and cause bad breath. This is similar to “morning breath” in that when you are sleeping, your saliva is lessened and dead cells stick to the roof of your mouth and cheeks, leaving an odor. Another lesser known producer of dry mouth is alcohol. If you have dry mouth, there are some potential remedies for you. Try chewing sugarless gum, limit caffeine, stop tobacco use and avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol. If that doesn’t help, contact your dentist who may recommend a specific product.
- Certain diets—if you are on a specific diet that limits the variety of food you eat such as a very low carb diet, you may notice bad breath as a result. After you digest, foods enter your bloodstream and are carried to the lungs which ultimately affect your breath. Cutting carbohydrates produces ketone molecules and one particular ketone called acetone is excreted, causing bad breath or “keto-breath”. It typically goes away after a few weeks or even months and the best advice is to eat a more balanced diet or drink more water to minimize the impact.
Other internal medical conditions—diabetes, liver disease and kidney disease have also been shown to produce poor smelling breath. If you notice that your breath is unusually bad and you can’t attribute it to anything else, contact your doctor to look at some other possible causes.