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What Causes Bad Breath?

  • Jan 21 2020

Is occasional bad breath normal or the sign of some underlying issue?

Sometimes it can seem like social interaction is uncomfortably similar to making our way through a minefield. At any moment, some sort of faux pas or embarrassing happenstance can take us by surprise. This can be anything from a miscalculation in etiquette to walking out of the restroom with tissue stuck to the sole of a shoe and trailing behind like the train on a bride’s dress. 

One of the most anxiety-provoking fears is that of unknowingly having bad breath. No one gets a free pass: it happens to everyone at some point. If you’re lucky, bad breath will strike at home, with only your spouse or significant other to bear witness and let you know right away that there is an issue. More likely, though, it will be at some social function, and you will gradually become aware that people are giving you a funny look or are trying to unobtrusively back away during conversation. Hopefully, there will be a breath mint nearby!

It doesn’t take too many experiences like that described above to make us want to stop bad breath before it develops. That is especially true, not only because it is likely that that mint was only marginally effective, at best, but also because bad breath can be a sign of something more serious than an overindulgence of one of your favorite garlicky foods. Some examples of underlying medical issues include advanced kidney or liver disease, as well as diabetes that is out of control. 

Common Causes of Bad Breath

The medical term for chronic bad breath is halitosis, which comes from the Latin “halitus”, which means breath and the Greek “osis”, meaning diseased. Whether occasional or chronic, it is good to be aware of the potential causes of bad breath so that you can take steps whenever possible to stop it before it starts. 

Some of the more common causes when it comes to bad breath include:

  • Lack of proper oral hygiene – bad breath isn’t the only reason to brush at least twice a day and make sure that includes brushing the tongue, but it is one of the most important things that you can do to prevent the growth of offensive odor-causing bacteria.
  • Sinus infections – issues in the nose, like a deviated septum or nasal polyps can result in ongoing bad breath.
  • Dry mouth – many people wake up with “morning breath” due to dehydration, mouth breathing or other factors that reduce the production of saliva while sleeping.
  • Food and drink – foods with a strong odor, like the garlic bread that you just can’t pass up with a pasta dinner or the onion on your burger, are often the cause of occasional bad breath. Alcohol can also contribute to bad breath due to the fact that it can cause dehydration.
  • Drugs and medication – certain types of medication can lead to bad breath in some people.
  • Medical issues and disease – infections, like strep throat or tonsillitis may include bad breath.
  • Dental issues – bacterial growth or other issues leading to cavities and gum disease often cause bad breath. 

Occasional bad breath can be inconvenient and embarrassing, but some common sense changes can usually take care of the problem. For others, chronic bad breath can be a serious health issue, as well as have a negative effect on quality of life. This is something that should be brought to the attention of your dental professional as soon as possible. 

If you are experiencing more than the very occasional bout of bad breath or have questions about any of our services, whether dentistry or aesthetics, Forest Hills Dentistry is dedicated to delivering the highest quality services possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with a new state-of-the-art facility in Forest Hills, Queens. Patient comfort, individualized care and complete satisfaction are our priorities. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to use our online form by clicking here

Categories: Dental Health

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