“About 75 percent of bad breath or halitosis is caused by the mouth itself. Other causes include gastric problems, sinus infections or severe gum disease,” says Mark Wolff, DDS, Ph.D., director of operative dentistry at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Dry mouth is one of the most common causes of bad breath and is caused by the reduced production of saliva. Smoking, drinking alcohol and beverages containing caffeine all cause dehydration in the mouth, which leads to bad breath. Dry mouth can also be caused by medication, mouth breathing, salivary gland problems, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Cure: The best way to get more saliva is to drink lots of water throughout the day. Chewing sugar-free gum increases the production of saliva in your mouth. Patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy would need to consult their physician or oncologist. Professional recommendations with prescription or over-the-counter products can also alleviate dry mouth symptoms.
Decaying food particles in the mouth due to plaque build-up and / or cavities have also been associated with bad breath. The rough surface of the tongue is home to a potentially foul smelling combination of dead cells, food debris and bacteria – factors that all contribute to less-than-fresh breath.
Cure: The best way to address this is by brushing after eating, flossing and cleaning your tongue using a tongue cleaner. When you cannot brush, try eating crisp vegetables and fruits like apples, carrots, lettuce. Also, eating more fruits which are high in vitamin C (eg- Melons, berries, oranges etc.) helps kill oral germs.
Other food habits may contribute towards bad breath to a certain extent. High protein, low carb diets, while a possible boon to your waist size, are not necessarily good for your breath. Eating fewer than 100 grams of carbohydrates a day triggers a condition known as ketosis, which is caused by certain chemicals (ketones) that are released in the breath, as the body burns fat.
Cure: If you believe your diet is causing bad breath, then consult with a dietician or nutritionist who can work with you to modify your diet.
Bad breath can also be caused by tonsils, respiratory tract infections and gastrointestinal orders.
Cure: Have a dental checkup so that your dentist can rule out bad breath due to conditions in the mouth. The tonsils and respiratory infections will need to be followed by a physician, E.N.T specialist or pulmonologist. Those patients who have gastrointestinal disorders should see their physician or gastroenterologist for their insights on how bad breath can be reduced regarding these systemic diseases.
Taking a pro-active approach to keeping your mouth clean is one of the most important ways to fend off bad breath. Regular dental checkups are vital. However, one of the key successes in treating bad breath is determining the cause in order to be able to address the issue effectively.