It was only a couple of weeks ago that a salesperson representing a reputable company approached me in hopes of advocating a product he was promoting. While the first thing we notice is the person’s appearance, and he looked well polished in his business suit, the second thing we notice is their breath, and when he opened his mouth to speak, it was immediately clear that this individual was not caring for his mouth. I lost focus and it set the precedent on whether I wanted to deal with this person moving forward.
The subject of bad breath is a hot topic when it comes to dental-related issues because it has a profound impact on the way we present ourselves in front of the world and our interactions with other people. Having bad breath (halitosis) can cause strangers to judge our hygiene, can create discomfort among those we work with, and can embarrass us. So let’s get down to the bottom of what causes it.
What Causes a Bad Breath (Halitosis)?
First of all, keep in mind that we cannot always tell that we have halitosis as we become accustomed to the way we usually smell. Cup your hands over your nose or lick your wrist and take a whiff. Or simply ask someone you are comfortable enough to ask; preferably someone who doesn’t live with you. If you do have halitosis, it’s important for you to discover the cause. While the causes are many the most common will be:
- The most likely culprit – An overload of plaque in your mouth. It takes only 12 hours for a single layer of plaque to build upon your teeth and tongue. Miss a spot brushing or neglect flossing, and layer upon layer of plaque, dead tissue, and bacteria, build up and cause your breath to smell.
- Often the foods we eat, be they strong-smelling (like the obvious garlic or onion, spices, and fish) will leave a lingering odor. Another lesser-known contributor is a lack of carbohydrates in the diet, “ketone breath” we call it. With the keto diet (which is an unbalanced diet by all reputable dietetic analysis – please PLEASE don’t do it!) being the fad these days, it is a much more common diagnosis than ever before.
- Smoking. Tobacco products leave chemicals that remain in the mouth and are quite tenacious and difficult to remove (plus it stains!). Cleaning your mouth as a smoker requires a lot more diligence for this reason.
- And the last common culprit we find is not from the mouth but related to the GI tract; Tonsillitis, ulcers, or acid reflux in which your doctor can help you control if it is causing problems.
The bottom line? Keep your mouth as plaque-free as possible, consume probiotic and crunchy foods, limit or avoid smoking, and see your dental care provider regularly to prevent problems or avoid them from starting entirely.