Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be embarrassing and in some cases may even cause anxiety.
There are many causes of bad breath but in most cases it can be improved with good dental hygiene. If problems persist, it is advisable to seek help from your dentist.
Here are some of the many possible causes of bad breath:
- Poor dental hygiene. Dentures that aren’t cleaned regularly or don’t fit properly can harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles. If you don’t brush and floss daily, food particles remain in your mouth, causing halitosis. A film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your teeth. If not brushed away, plaque can irritate your gums and eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis).
- Medication. Some medications can indirectly produce halitosis by contributing to dry mouth. Others can be broken down in the body to release chemicals that can be carried on your breath.
- Infection. Bad breath can be caused by surgical wounds after oral surgery, such as tooth removal, or as a result of tooth decay, gum disease or mouth sores.
- Tobacco. Smoking causes its own unpleasant mouth odour. Smokers are also prone to gum disease, another source of halitosis.
- Dry mouth. Saliva helps cleanse your mouth, removing particles that cause bad odours. A condition called dry mouth can contribute to halitosis because of the reduction in saliva. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep, leading to morning breath.
- Sore throat. Halitosis can occasionally stem from small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odour. Infections or chronic inflammation in the throat, which can contribute to postnasal drip, also can cause halitosis.
- Stomach acid. Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can be associated with halitosis.