It bothers you when you’re around someone with it and it is embarrassing if you have it but, thankfully, bad breath is one problem that is almost always easily taken care of. Understanding the causes of bad breath, also known as halitosis in the medical and dental professions, will allow you to deal with getting rid of this undesirable condition.
1. Diet. Some foods, like onions and garlic, carry with them a heavy odor caused by chemical compounds that stay in the blood stream and are expelled through the lungs. A breath mint or mouthwash will mask the odor but until the food is fully digested and the offending toxin in the food is expelled by the lungs, there is no way to get rid of the odor other than to stop eating the foods that cause the bad breath.
Also, some diets that are high in protein such as the Atkins Diet or South Beach Diet can lead to bad breath, although most people who report bad breath from these diets say it is a temporary condition.
2. Bacteria in the mouth. Poor dental habits can lead to bacteria and sulfuric compounds growing in the teeth and gums; including methyl mercapta, cadaverine, putrescine, and sulfide. Brushing twice daily and flossing at least once daily will prevent food from rotting in the mouth and the development of these bacteria.
3. Dry mouth. When the mouth is dry, there is not enough saliva to clean the mouth of small particles of food which in turn leads to bad breath. Keeping the body well-hydrated is a good solution to keep this kind of bad breath from occurring, although people with severe xerostomia (fancy word for dry mouth) may need to use artificial saliva to fix this problem.
4. Tobacco and excessive alcohol use. Smoking is not only bad for the lungs, but it is also bad for the teeth, gums and mouth. Tobacco stains the teeth and the smoke can permeate the gums, giving smokers chronically bad breath. Quitting smoking is the only way to effectively get rid of the smell of “smoker’s breath.”
Alcohol will also cause bad breath. Part of the way the body deals with the toxin of alcohol is to carry it to the lungs through the blood stream, which is why people have alcohol on their breath until they are sober. Breath mints and mouthwash are very bad at masking alcohol on the breath (just ask any police officer whose job it is to patrol for drunk drivers). Allowing the body to sober up is the only solution to this kind of bad breath.
5. A medical condition. If you have persistant bad breath and you brush and floss regularly, don’t smoke or drink and have avoided bad breath foods like onion, you may have a severe medical condition and should immediately consult a physician. Diseases of the lungs, throat and nasal cavity are often the culprits, and they can range from mild to severe. If you suspect that your bad breath is caused by something other than food or smoking – don’t hesitate, see a doctor.