Most of you will be reading this page because you have bad breath and want to know how to get rid of it. Your first step will actually be to find out what causes it. If you don’t know that, then it becomes more difficult to solve the problem.
It’s all very well buying products that say they will help but finding a natural and long term solution is best. The problem is, it isn’t always easy to find out what’s causing bad breath so we have some facts and suggestions here for you to read through.
Bad breath very rarely comes from the stomach, throat, nose or sinuses. Air that is released from the nose of someone with bad breath does not have an offensive smell. In over 95% of cases, the original cause of bad breath is found in the mouth.
If you do not look after your teeth and gums this will contribute to bad breath but not everyone that suffers from halitosis/bad breath neglects their oral hygiene. Some people have meticulous oral hygiene but have terrible breath. Hence why it is important to find the original cause.
What are the symptoms of Bad Breath/Halitosis?
It’s very difficult to tell if you have bad breath (though it’s easy for others to tell!), so here are some signs which MAY indicate your breath may have an odour:
- Dry mouth
- Tongue has a coating, white or yellow
- Bad taste in your mouth, bitter, sour or metallic
- Recurrent sinus issues/nasal drip or hayfever
- Tonsil stones
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Teeth with a slimy or yellow film on them, or stained teeth.
- Frequent toothache
If you are brave enough, you could ask a trusted friend or family member - though we know this can be very embarrassing, another person’s opinion is probably the only way you will know for sure.
What Causes Bad Breath?
There are many causes of bad breath and finding the cause of YOUR bad breath is the key to solving it. Many people simply cover up their bad breath with mints and flavoured mouth washes. This can be costly and not a long term solution.
The main answer is that 97% of bad breath is caused by terrible smelling gases which are given off by anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that thrive in very low oxygen environments) after they have digested proteins from your mouth. These proteins are found in dead cells, blood, mucus (from post nasal drip) and food particles.
There are over 600 types of bacteria found in your mouth, some are useful bacteria and do not give off an unpleasant odour. When the ratio of bad bacteria in the mouth is higher than the good bacteria, quite often that person will suffer chronic halitosis. This ratio needs to be addressed.
What Causes Bad Bacteria to Increase in the Mouth?
There are a few factors which cause this imbalance in the mouth. If you create a suitable environment for the bad bacteria, then they will simply flourish and increase their odour output!
- Poor oral hygiene
- Dry mouth
- Tonsil stones
- Gum disease
- Sinus infections, allergies and throat infections
- Oral infections (tooth decay and mouth lesions)
- Some foods and drink
Can Bad Breath originate anywhere else in the Body?
Most cases of bad breath/halitosis comes from the mouth i.e. the tongue, teeth and gums.
A small percentage of bad breath comes from the upper respiratory tract i.e. the nose, sinuses, tonsils and throat.
In a small number of cases bad breath can start in the lungs. One can have a lung infection or inflammation. This will need to be investigated by your Doctor. Dieting or fasting can cause bad breath from the lungs as when your body burns fat, it produces ketones which are excreted through the lungs.
Many people ask if bad breath can start in the stomach. This is fairly rare but some medical conditions for example acid reflux, gastritis and IBS can cause bad breath due to acids and partially digested foods that coat the esophagus.
Food and Drink
There are some foods and drink which can instantly cause your breath to smell, such as spices, onion and garlic.
You also need to consider foods and drink which create a friendly environment for that foul smelling bad bacteria. These are listed below:
- Sugary foods and drink – bad bacteria will immediately consume the sugars in your mouth and sugar also allows the bacteria to reproduce very quickly. Sugar is bad for your teeth and gums anyway, so you shouldn’t be consuming much sugar at all. If you do, make sure you rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth as soon as possible.
- Acidic foods – bad bacteria enjoy an acidic environment, so watch foods such as vinegar, beef, eggs, lemons, oranges etc. Though you shouldn’t’ avoid these foods as you need a balanced diet, ensure you drink water whilst consuming them.
- Alcohol – alcohol dries out the mouth by reducing the amount of saliva available. Saliva contains oxygen and helps keep the bad bacteria at bay, reduce the amount of salvia and watch the bad bacteria thrive! Sadly, some mouth washes contain alcohol so therefore using these mouthwashes will simply make the problem of dry mouth worse.
As well as staining your teeth, irritating your gums and reducing your sense of taste – smoking makes your breath smell. Smoking can also cause gum disease which is another cause of bad breath.
There are some types of medication that can cause bad breath
- Nitrates – used to treat angina and other chest pain
- Some chemotherapy medication
DO NOT stop taking these medications simply because they may be causing bad breath. Discuss this issue with your GP.
Fear of Bad Breath/Halitophobia
Some people simply THINK they have bad breath. This is called Halitophobia.
Some people become paranoid about the smell of their own breath, they constantly eat mints, chew gum, are always brushing their teeth and often misinterpret others behaviour, assuming their actions are a reaction to their bad breath.
Seeing a therapist is helpful for Halitophobia and will help them overcome their fixation of the smell of their breath.