What’s That Smell? 8 Common Causes of Bad Breath


It’s a pretty common occurrence, but nobody likes to talk about it. Your dentist in Royal Palm Beach has seen their share of bad breath with patients. It comes with the territory, and it’s a pretty widespread phenomenon, even though nobody likes talking about it. Harvard Medical School states that almost one-third of the population suffers from some form of bad breath (also called halitosis).

As you’ve no doubt seen in hundreds of TV shows, many people believe that they can tell if they have bad breath by blowing into cupped hands. As legitimate as that sounds, it’s a myth. The BBC noted that a lot of people who have bad breath didn’t even know they did, and those that didn’t suspected they might. What causes your breath to end up like this anyway? From what studies have suggested, there are a few things that can cause bad breath. We’re going to explore a few of them with advice from your dentist in Royal Palm Beach.

Cause 1: Poor Oral Hygiene

The most common occurrence of bad breath simply comes from not taking care of your mouth the way you should be. Food particles that remain stuck to your teeth can lead to cavities by their breakdown, as you already know. What you might not know is that when the bacteria on your teeth break down that food, they create gases as a side effect, which will lead to bad breath. While this leads to short term occurrences of bad breath, if your oral hygiene isn’t improved, it can lead to long term illnesses such as gum diseases, which will worsen the problem. Be sure to see your dentist in Royal Palm Beach for regular dental checkups and cleanings.

Cause 2: Coffee

I know a lot of Americans will hate hearing that coffee can cause bad breath, but it’s the truth. Live Science mentions that the caffeine in coffee can cause bad breath by causing the saliva in your mouth to run out. The decrease in saliva corresponds with an increase in odor-producing bacteria. Additionally, coffee tends to have a heavy scent, which can affect your breath as you talk. When both of these factors combine, they make for a perfect storm where your mouth’s natural odor-causing bacteria combine with the coffee’s scent to create a smell that’s varying degrees of horrible.

Cause 3: Diets

You already know that sugar is terrible for your teeth because they can lead to the weakening of the enamel. The odor-producing bacteria in your mouth also love sugar, and having a diet that gives them access to a lot of sugar can be bad for your breath. Alternatively, you might consider the other end of the spectrum. Keto and other low-carb diets are pretty popular these days, but a diet without sugar has other specific issues. When your body is on a low carb, high-fat diet, it brings about changes in your metabolism. Very Well Fit notes that keto and low-carb diets cause bad breath because of the body entering ketosis or because of protein metabolism. For high-protein diets that bodybuilders engage in when protein isn’t adequately digested, it tends to release sulfurous gases that contribute to bad breath.

Cause 4: Alcohol

You’ve likely smelt alcohol on someone’s breath before, but alcohol’s effect on bad breath goes much deeper than just the scent of it after drinking. Gizmodo cites a study that found the consumption of liquor stimulated the growth of bacterial colonies that are responsible for gum disease. Additionally, alcohol leads to a decrease in saliva production that’s far more acute than the same occurrence in coffee. The results are similar, with the odor-producing bacteria taking full advantage of the lack of saliva.

Cause 5: Breathing Through your Mouth

You should know this is a bad habit, but some people can’t help it. When you breathe through your mouth, not only are you opening your body up to infection, but you’re also causing your saliva to evaporate at an increased rate. An article published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports mentions that exercise that leads to breathing through one’s mouth could cause cavities due to reduced saliva from evaporation. We’ve already established what happens when your mouth doesn’t have enough saliva. If your nasal passages aren’t clogged, it’s a horrible idea to breathe through your mouth.

Cause 5: Skipping Meals

A lot of people think that skipping meals will help them lose weight. While studies don’t show that skipping a meal will have any impact on your weight, we do know that if you don’t eat on time, it’ll affect your breath. When you don’t eat on time, your body ceases to produce saliva to help with getting food into your stomach. What happens when you don’t have enough saliva being produced? You get bad breath. Skipping meals isn’t healthy, and the additional problem of bad breath should deter you from doing this too often.

Cause 6: Heartburn and Reflux

Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD) affects a lot of Americans, but many of them aren’t aware that it also affects their breath. A study in the journal Oral Diseases done in 2007 found that the incidence of bad breath was far higher in sufferers of GERD than it was in the general population. While the study doesn’t pinpoint what might have caused this higher incidence, scientists think it might be the destruction of a person’s throat tissue due to reflux of acid from their stomach.

Cause 7: You Don’t Maintain Your Oral Appliances

This observation isn’t just about braces, although they are one of the most common oral appliances. It also refers to things like fixed bridges or dentures. All dental appliances can be magnets for food particles, which, of course, trigger bacteria to break it down. The unsurprising result is a buildup of bad odor within the mouth, which leads to bad breath. Cleaning these devices will not only keep the incidence of bad breath down from food being stuck in them but reduce plaque formation as well.

Cause 8: Post-Nasal Drip

Usually, the mucus in your nasal passages traps foreign particles when you’re breathing. When you’re sick with a cold, the mucus in your nose gets backed up. Some of it might drip down to the back of your throat. The foreign particles in your mucus travel to your throat and settle there, triggering bad breath. Sore throats are bad, but getting bad breath from this seems a lot worse since you’re too busy sneezing to do anything about it.

It’s Not the End of the World

A lot of people do suffer from bad breath. However, just because you suffer from it doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to deal with it. Proper oral hygiene is of the highest importance when it comes to taking care of your breath. Flossing, brushing, and going to regular dental appointments at your dentist in Royal Palm Beach can go a long way towards ensuring that you don’t end up with bad breath. If you’re doing all you can and still are not having a lot of success with improving your bad breath, it might be time to give Anderson Dental a call. Dealing with bad breath doesn’t have to be something you do alone. Let your dentist in Royal Palm Beach help you figure out what’s causing it and work on getting over it together.