Young woman wearing sweater standing in front of pink background Holding Breath With Fingers On Nose.

It’s a familiar scenario that’s happened to many of us: you’re in conversation with a friend or relative when they tell you that your breath stinks. First comes the embarrassment, then the confusion. You brushed your teeth earlier so how could your breath smell bad?

There are many possible causes of bad breath, and some are easier to pin down than others. Determining the real reason behind the odor often requires a thorough oral examination performed by one of our dentists.

Here are a few common causes of chronic bad breath, or halitosis, and quick tips on how to eliminate the smell altogether.

What is Halitosis?

In the medical field, bad breath is known as halitosis. This commonly shared condition can result from a range of causes such as poor oral hygiene habits and diet. Certain lifestyle choices, like smoking, can also exacerbate current bad breath and make it harder to treat.

Some cases of halitosis can be simple to remedy at home while more severe instances can hint at an underlying disease. Oftentimes, those will require medical intervention either by a family physician or one of our dentists. If you feel as though you have tried everything, please do not hesitate to contact one of our MI Smiles Dental locations. Our dentists can help you get to the bottom of your bad breath.

Common Causes of Bad Breath Include:

Foods You’ve Eaten

A major culprit of bad breath is food. Depending on what you’ve eaten recently, the smell could linger for hours and brushing your teeth only masks the odor temporarily. The source of the bad breath is generally linked to the type of food and its breakdown in your mouth.

When you eat something, the food particles in and around your teeth can increase bacteria buildup and cause an unpleasant smell. Digesting the food also results in them entering your bloodstream and being carried to your lungs which can affect your breath.

A few foods that can lead to stubborn bad breath include:

  • Onions, garlic, and spices
  • Dairy products like milk or cheese
  • Cured meats like pastrami or pepperoni
  • Canned fish
  • Horseradish
  • Coffee
  • Peanut Butter

Gum Disease and Poor Dental Hygiene

Another reason for foul-smelling breath can be your lack of oral hygiene. Even if you brush and floss every day, there is a chance you may not be cleaning thoroughly. This inattention or improper technique can unfortunately lead to the development of gum disease and worse breath.

Without daily brushing and flossing, food particles will sit in your mouth and promote bacterial growth in between teeth, around your gums, and on the tongue. When plaque forms on your teeth and is not cleaned, inflammation of the gums can occur, and deep pockets will form between the teeth and gums. Eventually this can transform into early-stage gingivitis, or severe periodontitis down the road.

Our dentists recommend that you brush at least twice a day and floss once daily. Be sure to use a fluoride toothpaste and soft-bristled toothbrush. You can also integrate a mouthwash into your oral care routine. In addition to cleaning your teeth and gums, you shouldn’t forget to brush your tongue. Bacteria located on your tongue can contribute to bad breath so it should be adequately cleared off when brushing.

Dry Mouth

Many people take the saliva in their mouth for granted but when it’s gone, issues can arise. Saliva helps to cleanse the mouth and remove food particles that cause less than desirable odors. If you have dry mouth, there is much less natural saliva produced than normal and bad breath can occur. This condition can happen during sleep or may be the result of disease and medication. Ask our dentists today about treating dry mouth.

Nose, Throat, or Mouth Conditions

Certain infections or inflammation present in the nose, sinuses, or throat can cause post-nasal drip and subsequently, bad breath. Also, small stones covered with bacteria, known as tonsil stones, can form in the tonsils and produce a bad smell. The “stones” typically fall out themselves and are harmless but if you’re concerned, feel free to ask our dentists or your primary physician.

Underlying Disease

The chemicals produced by some forms of cancer and metabolic disorders can result in a distinctive breath smell. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also be linked with bad breath due to the chronic reflux of stomach acids. If regular oral hygiene and professional teeth cleanings with our dentists every 3-6 months do not treat your breath problems, you may need to visit your doctor to investigate possible disease.

Ways to Get Rid of Bad Breath

Aside from regular check-in appointments with our dentists, there are ways that you can fight bad breath at home. Reduce or prevent odors by:

  • Practicing good oral hygiene every day
  • Refraining from smoking or using chewing tobacco
  • Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep your mouth moist
  • Eating a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables
  • Treating cavities or gum disease promptly

Our Dentists Can Help You Find Relief Today

You don’t have to feel embarrassed by bad breath as it can be treated by our dentists in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Comstock Park, MI. We can give you additional advice on how to eliminate the smell and provide next steps. Call one of our MI Smiles Dental locations today or request an appointment online.