Everyone battles a case of bad breath occasionally. But what can you do if you notice that bad breath – also known as halitosis – becomes a frequent problem? The first step to eliminating a foul odor is to determine its cause. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common causes of bad breath include food, dental problems and tobacco products.
In the case of food, particles that break down in your mouth can result in bad breath, particularly if the food contains “volatile oils.” Common examples are onions and garlic, both of which can cause a person to have bad breath for up to three days after consumption! The reason they stay around for so long is because the oils are absorbed into the bloodstream and eventually moved into the lungs.
People who have poor dental hygiene habits are also prone to bad breath. Forgetting to brush and floss frequently means that food gets stuck in between teeth, gathering bacteria and eventually causing a foul odor. The same goes for people who wear dentures: they must be cleaned in order to maintain fresh breath.
Not surprisingly, tobacco is a frequent cause of halitosis. Products like cigarettes dry out the mouth and come with their own pungent odor, which is then continued long after the cigarette is put out. Not to mention, tobacco users are more likely to have dental problems, which only compounds the situation as explained above.
Interestingly, one other cause of bad breath – which most people refer to as “morning breath” – comes as a result of an overly dry mouth. The Mayo Clinic explains that during sleep, dead cells accumulate on a person’s tongue and then decompose, causing a foul odor. This is especially true for people who sleep with their mouth open, allowing air to further dry out the mouth, tongue and cheeks.
If you have trouble with bad breath, talk to your dentist about other possible causes and treatments. With a little help, you’ll be on your way to a minty smile.