Bad Breath: Causes and How To Treat It

woman checking her bad breath

A foul smell coming from your mouth can be embarrassing. This is bad breath also known as halitosis.

It is more common than you may think because of certain diseases and medications.

The American Dental Association states that about 50 percent population of America has had halitosis during their life.

If your breath smells bad, you may want to keep chewing gums and use mouth wash regularly.

Though, these solutions are temporary.

The breath odor is not necessarily from the mouth, it could also be because of an underlying condition.

This article discusses the causes of halitosis and how you can reduce or treat it.

bad breath due to food

Causes Of Bad Breath From Throat

Halitosis in your mouth and throat can be because of bacteria, the food you consume, diseases and infections. Let’s find out about them below.

Your Bad Oral Hygiene 

Do you brush and floss daily?

Are you removing the plaque and bacteria in your mouth and cleaning any stuck food debris?

If not, your oral hygiene and improper dental care is probably causing your breath to turn smelly.

The bacteria will likely break down stuck food particles and will decay it which in return produces a foul odor.

Plaque can cause gingivitis and periodontal disease eventually leading to tooth loss.

Furthermore, the tongue traps bacteria. If you do not clean it properly then your breath will start smelling.

Either use tongue scrapers or the back of your toothbrush to clean the tongue while brushing teeth.

Similarly, if you wear dentures and they are not properly fit then they may trap bacteria and food particles.

Plus, if you also leave them unclean then all of this will combine to give a bad smell from your mouth.

This brings us to…

Food You Eat 

Certain foods and drinks such as onion, cheese, spices, acidic beverages such as tea or coffee and garlic have a foul smell and while digesting them, your stomach absorbs their oils.

These pass on into the bloodstream and then to the lungs which cause your breath to smell.

This odor can stay for as long as 72 hours, other times it is lasts less long.

Furthermore, as food breaks and gets stuck around teeth and gums, it builds up bacteria and plaque.

Additionally, if you are doing a Keto Diet, then you are likely to have a ketone breath.

As the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates as an energy source, it produces ketones.

They give off a fruity acetone smell from the mouth.

woman checking the smell from her mouth

Other Causes

  • You Have Dry Mouth 

A dry mouth is a condition where your salivary glands do not produce enough saliva.

Saliva helps to wash away food particles in your mouth and it keeps bacteria at bay.

It keeps the mouth moist and allows for proper cleaning of the mouth.

Your saliva production may decrease due to medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome or by taking medicines for diseases.

Hence, the lack of saliva causes bacteria buildup and produces a strong odor contributing to bad breath.

It can also smell bad in the morning when you wake up. More on this below.

  • You Sleep With Your Mouth Open 

If you sleep with your mouth open then your morning breath can be worse than normal.

Morning breath is quite common because saliva production seizes while you sleep.

Hence, the bacteria buildup overnight and your breath smells as you wake up.

Though, it is especially bad if your mouth is open all through the night.

  • You Smoke or Use Tobacco 

Smoking and chewing tobacco leave chemicals inside your mouth that produces a bad mouth odor.

Also, smoking causes dry mouth and reduces saliva in the mouth which can worsen the smell.

Smokers are also more susceptible to gum disease which can also contribute to halitosis.

  • You Take Medicines 

Some medicines generally cause the breath to smell.

These include diuretics and antihistamines which will turn your mouth dry, reduce saliva and eventually mouth odor.

Others contain certain chemicals that can enter the bloodstream and into the lungs and breath that cause it to smell.

  • You Have Allergies, Diseases and Infections

An allergy symptom, postnasal drip causes your mouth to smell bad because of inflammation in the nose, throat and sinus.

The antihistamines that treat allergies lead to dry mouth and less saliva production.

Furthermore, if you have a sinus infection or similar conditions such as chronic bronchitis or an infection in the lower and upper respiratory system, this can cause congestion.

Hence, you may breathe from your mouth that can an unpleasant smell.

There can be an infection in your mouth after a dental procedure such as surgical wounds.

It could also be due to tooth decay, canker sores and gingivitis.

Tonsil stones, kidney failure, sore throat, lactose intolerance, sleep apnea, acid reflux, liver failure and diabetes can all cause halitosis.

  • You Don’t Clean Teeth Properly Because of Braces 

Like Dentures, unclean braces can also disrupt your oral health and food can remain stuck inside your teeth.

This will allow plaque and bacteria to build up and cause an unpleasant smell and other dental and health problems.

  • You Are Pregnant 

Pregnancy itself does not cause halitosis.

However, you will feel nauseous and have morning sickness which can result in breath odors.

Also, you undergo hormonal changes, dehydration and eat all kinds of stuff during this time period which can cause you to smell bad.

Taking lots of vitamin supplements can make your breath smell too.

Moreover, if your child smells bad, this may be because of a piece of food stuck in their nostrils.

illustration of two women talking where one has halitosis

How Can You Tell If You Have Halitosis?

The people around you can identify your breath and whether it smells foul.

This foul smell is the biggest sign and symptom but it may go undetected if no one else tells you.

Hence, you can also notice a change of taste in your mouth.

Is there a constant sour and unpleasant taste?

Also if you take medicines and suffer from a disease or infection then you can tell if your mouth is more sticky and you tend to drink more water.

This indicates a dry mouth thereby, your mouth probably also smells unpleasant.

A physical sign is to see if there is a coating on your tongue.

Your doctor will also scrape the back of your tongue to check for an unpleasant odor.

Moreover, they can rate the odor of your breath from both your mouth and your nose.

If the unpleasant taste and smell persist even if you brush, floss and use a mouthwash then you should seek treatment.

Also, if you feel pain, issues while chewing, fever, sores and fatigue then you should visit the doctor as it may indicate an infection or disease that is causing your halitosis.

Treatment includes simple home remedies and lifestyle changes that you can easily incorporate into your life.

Read about them below.

woman using mouth spray

Bad Breath Treatment

The foul smell from your breath can be due to any existing infection, disease or allergy.

The cure of halitosis lies in the treatment of the condition.

Your dentist can treat your gingivitis or check for tooth restorations that are now faulty.

Likewise, they can get rid of the smell by doing teeth cleaning and scaling.

This can help clean the plaque and bacteria they may grow to cause gum disease.

They can recommend you to get mouthwash and rinses with antibacterial agents to effectively kill all bacteria in the mouth present on the teeth, gums and tongue.

Treating bad breath includes getting mouth sprays and fresheners to keep the foul smell at bay.

Other than that you can take measures to make sure you always smell good and your breath does not stink.

boy scraping tongue for bad breath treatment

How To Get Rid Of Bad Breath From Throat

-Brushing Teeth After Meals: You should brush your teeth twice a day.

However, you should do so immediately after your meal if you smell bad.

Keep a fluoride toothpaste with antibacterial properties that can reduce the odor and clear plaque and wash away food.

-Floss Daily: In order to completely remove the stuck food debris, floss at least once daily.

Use a dental string floss or a water flosser to reach areas your toothbrush cannot, especially if you wear braces.

-Drink Water and Chew on A Gum: These two can help reduce dry mouth.

Drinking water and chewing gum can keep the saliva flowing in your mouth hence, your mouth does not dry out.

If your dry mouth is due to medicines, then ask your doctor to replace them if possible.

Otherwise, you can get artificial saliva preparations to stimulate saliva in your mouth.

-Replace toothbrush: Your manual or electric toothbrush will be useless if the bristles are frayed.

Hence replace the toothbrushes after every 3 months.

This time, choose one with a tongue scraper or cleaner. Clean your tongue while you brush with the tongue cleaner.

-Eat wisely: Avoid foods and beverages that will stink.

Do not drink coffee, tea, avoid onion, spices or garlic.

Limit the intake of sugars in your food to keep your mouth healthy.

-Clean dentures and retainers: Any orthodontic appliance that you wear should be cleaned every time you wear it.

Ask your dentist about the proper way to clean them at least once a day.

Summing Up 

You can treat your bad breath by taking a few measures in your life.

If you visit your dentist regularly then you may not develop such issues.

The cleanliness of your mouth prevents many conditions, hence, visit your dentist frequently.



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