About 30% of Americans struggle with bad breath, an issue that is also called oral malodor or halitosis. Bad breath typically occurs due to your dietary choices, but it may also indicate an underlying dental problem. The smell of bad breath depends on its culprit. The most common types of bad breath include rotten egg, fruity, moldy, fishy, and even fecal smell.
If you’ve suddenly started to experience bad breath, keep on reading this article to discover the seven most common culprits of this problem and how to treat them.
1. Dental problems
Bad breath can be caused by an infection due to oral diseases like gingivitis, periodontitis, colds sores, oral cancer, and fever blisters. For example, periodontitis can cause pockets in your gums, where numerous odor-causing bacteria can thrive. Some oral conditions can lead to decreased saliva production, which is also linked to the occurrence of halitosis. Normal levels of saliva in your mouth are essential to neutralize bad breath-causing compounds from foods and bacteria. Make sure to visit a dental specialist to undergo routine dental checkups and cleanings that will help diagnose any signs of oral disease in time and prevent bad breath.
2. Gas-emitting bacteria
Gas-emitting oral bacteria are among the most common culprits of halitosis. More than 700 species of bacteria can leave and thrive in your mouth. If you neglect to properly brush and floss your teeth and avoid using mouthwash, these bacteria can start to feed on the food residue stuck between your teeth. The toxic compounds these bacteria produce will eventually lead to an unpleasant odor from your mouth. Proper dental hygiene is crucial to eliminate dangerous bacteria and neutralize any acidic compounds in your mouth.
3. Dry mouth
Dryness makes your mouth more vulnerable to streptococcus and other bacteria that produce acids and enamel-dissolving compounds when contacting food residue. Dry mouth is also linked to tooth decay and gum disease, which are among the leading culprits of bad breath. Best ways to manage dry mouth include:
- Drinking more water
- Limiting sugar intake
- Avoiding alcohol
- Limiting salty or dry foods
- Quitting smoking
- Using a moisturizer
You can also try various oral care products that can help revitalize your dry mouth, but always consult a dental specialist before using any.
4. Foods that are high in sugar and protein
Foods that contain lots of proteins, glycoproteins, or sugars can lead to a bad smell from your mouth. Most oral bacteria feed on sugary and protein food leftovers on your teeth and gums. So, the more high-protein foods you eat, the more bacteria develops in your oral cavity. Over time, this can lead to an increased amount of acidic and odor-causing compounds in your mouth.
5. Tobacco products
Apart from discoloring your teeth, irritating your gums, and decreasing your ability to taste foods and drinks, tobacco products can also lead to halitosis. Tobacco products like regular cigarettes, snus, kreteks, and electronic cigarettes can all cause dryness in your mouth. This helps create the perfect breeding ground for acidic and odor-causing bacteria to thrive.
6. Prescription drugs
Some prescription drugs can worsen your bad breath. If you’re using medications that contain dimethyl sulfoxide, cysteamine, disulfiram, suplatast tosilate, nitric oxide, or penicillamine, you may experience drug-related oral malodor.
7. Tonsil stones
Often, food residue can get stuck in the crypts of your palatine tonsils. This food residue can promote the development of odor-causing bacteria in your oral cavity and throat. Fortunately, this problem can be solved by visiting a dental specialist and taking appropriate medications. The best ways to prevent the occurrence of tonsil stones include proper dental hygiene, rinsing your tonsils with a water flosser, and gargling with salt water.