Bad breath is a common problem. If you’ve ever had an unpleasant mouth odor on a date, at a job interview, or while talking with friends, you’re not alone. Researches indicate that nearly 50% of adults have experienced this issue at least once during their lives. There are numerous potential causes of bad breath. While most of them are harmless, some can be a sign of a serious underlying problem.
Keep reading to discover the eight most surprising causes of bad breath.
1. Happy hour
A fun night out or a couple of beers with friends may result in more than just a hangover. Despite being a liquid, alcohol can actually dry out your mouth by decreasing the normal production of saliva. Saliva is essential to moisten and cleanse your mouth, removing dead cells that build upon the tongue, gumline, and inner surface of the cheeks. If not washed out, these cells can start to decompose, which can lead to bad breath. Some beverages with caffeine, spicy foods, and smoking can also contribute to a lack of saliva in your mouth.
2. Cracked tooth or filling
A tooth or filling that got cracked or otherwise damaged due to chewing on hard foods, or getting hit in the mouth, can trap food residue and breed bacteria. This can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and bad breath. Poorly fitting dentures can also contribute to the same problem, by causing soreness, irritation, and infection in your gums and oral tissues. If you’ve recently cracked your filling or suffer from ill-fitting dentures, consider scheduling an appointment with a dental specialist.
3. Your tongue
Your tongue is a perfect breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria. That’s why it’s important to clean your tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper. Scrapers can provide more significant results. While looking for one, make sure to avoid those that are made of plastic or metal, as they can snap or be too sharp.
4. A low-carb diet
When you limit your carbs intake and increase protein consumption, your body starts burning fat to get energy. This results in the production of compounds called ketones, which may lead to a foul smell from your mouth. In such a case, even the most thorough dental hygiene isn’t enough to solve the problem. You may try masking your bad breath with sugarless gum.
5. The common cold
Respiratory tract infections, allergies, and infections like cold or bronchitis may also cause bad breath, among other symptoms. All of these diseases lead to an increase in mucus, which is the favorite food of the odor-causing bacteria. Plus, if your nose is clogged up, you’re more likely to resort to mouth-breathing, which can result in dry mouth.
Nearly 400 over-the-counter and prescription medications, including allergy drugs and antidepressants, can decrease the production of saliva. This liquid helps wash away food residue, dead cells, and bacteria from your mouth, reducing the risk of bad breath. If your doctor doesn’t recommend changing your medications, try using special mouthwashes, stay hydrated, and chew sugar-free gum to avoid a dry mouth.
7. Tonsil stones
These small bits of bacteria and debris may get stuck in the nooks of your tonsils or at the back of your tongue. They’re typically harmless, aside from causing bad breath. Most tonsils stones will dislodge on their own, but you can stimulate this process with a salt-water gargle. You may also consult your dentist if you’re interested in other treatments.
8. Acid Reflux or Heartburn
The unpleasant smell from your mouth may occur due to some digested foods rising back up to the esophagus and into the mouth. Or it can result from the irritation caused by the stomach acids which lead to postnasal drip. Consult your doctor if you experience recurrent heartburn attacks.