Many people misunderstand bad breath, tending to link it directly to poor oral hygiene. While bleeding gums and dental caries can certainly cause bad breath, these are far from the only causes. Other than poor oral hygiene, bad breath can show up for six different reasons.
Bad breath from the lungs
Your lungs can lend an unpleasant odor to the air you exhale in 3 ways:
⇒If your diet includes garlic, onion or other strong-smelling foods, the odor-giving chemicals in them can enter your bloodstream, make their way to your lungs and foul up the air that passes through them.
⇒ Alcohol and smoking can cause bad breath. With smoking, the tar and other substances in the smoke can cause a buildup of contaminated phlegm in your lungs. This phlegm can pass its odor to the air that you exhale. If you have alcohol in your blood from a few drinks, that smell can get on your breath in your lungs, too.
⇒ Asthma, cystic fibrosis and even lung cancer tend to leave an unpleasant stamp on the breath. Doctors are beginning to actually use smell tests to detect lung cancer at an early stage these days.
While there’s little you can do about the effect that a health condition has on your breath, the effects of garlic and onion don’t last long – a couple of days at most after a meal with these ingredients. The bad breath that you get from alcohol and smoking is easily controlled, too – you simply need to quit using these recreational substances.
Bad breath from the sinuses
The sinuses are internal cavities within the structure of the skull. They act as resonance chambers that give your voice more body and they moisten the air you breathe.
Many people have never-ending trouble with regular bouts of sinusitis. Nasal mucus collects in their sinuses at these times, stagnates and grows odor-causing bacteria. Sinusitis can cause bad breath in another way, too. When your nose is clogged from sinusitis, you may breathe through your mouth a lot. This action can easily dry your mouth. When you saliva constantly dries before it has a chance to rinse out your mouth, you can begin to grow oral bacteria that cause bad breath.
While you can take antibiotics to clear up a sinus infection, you need to consult a doctor about a long-term solution if the infection frequently recurs.
Bad breath from the digestive system
Bad breath arising out of digestive disorders can be the worst smelling of all. Thankfully, gastric bad breath isn’t very common. When you have indigestion, a stomach ache, diarrhea, gastric reflux, bowel obstruction or other difficult conditions that cause bad breath, you will likely waste no time seeking treatment for them. Stomach-related bad breath, then, doesn’t tend to last. It goes away when you treat the cause.
Bad breath from the tonsils
The tonsils, little masses of lymphatic tissue on either side of the esophagus at the back of the mouth, can be a cause of bad breath. Since the tonsils have complex surface structure with wrinkles and crevices, food particles tend to get lodged on them. Over time, these food particles mix up with bacteria and form calcified lumps that stay lodged firmly in place. The bacteria produce foul-smelling sulfur.
Doctors and dentists don’t usually think of tonsil stones when a patient complains of bad breath. It may be up to you to bring up the possibility. The doctor can use water jets to wash off the tonsil stones or use a laser to resurface your tonsils and smooth out the crevices.
Bad breath from a dry mouth
As mentioned above, bad breath is nearly certain when you suffer from oral dryness. Mouth breathing isn’t the only reason why you might experience dryness. You can get dry mouth through talking a lot through the day, not drinking enough water and even through drinking too much coffee. Coffee disrupts saliva production. Even stress can dry the mouth. When you are on edge, your body produces a hormone called cortisol to help you cope. A dry mouth is one of the incidental effects of cortisol.
While you may not be able to do much about the stress you feel, you can certainly help keep mouth dryness away by frequently sipping water and cutting down on your coffee.
Finally, are you on a low-carb diet?
When you go on an extreme low-carb diet like the Atkins method, the idea is to force the body to use an alternative source of energy – your body’s stored fat. While you may lose fat when your body burns it you have an unpleasant side effect to contend with – bad breath. Ketosis, the process by which the body burns fat, releases malodorous substances called ketones into the saliva. If you experience this problem, you may need to move to a low-carb diet that is less extreme.
You need to address whatever may be behind your bad breath
If you have bad breath, you may not personally sense the odor. It can still have a terrible effect your life, though – it can keep everyone away. Since bad breath can appear for many different causes it can take time to track the right one down. It’s important that you stay with the search, though. Curing yourself of bad breath can change your life, after all.