Bad breath can be more than an inconvenience -- it can be a sign of a greater health problem. Understanding the cause of your bad breath and how to tell the difference between what's normal and abnormal can help you better monitor your overall wellness.
What Causes Bad Breath?
Also known as halitosis, bad breath can be caused by a number of things, but it's incredibly common. If you suffer from bad breath (any everyone does occasionally), here are some issues that may be to blame:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Certain foods (garlic, onions, etc.)
- Low saliva production (dry mouth)
- Mouth breathing
- Certain medications like antibiotics
Medical Issues that Cause Bad Breath
The previously mentioned causes of bad breath should be easily remedied with over-the-counter remedies or lifestyle changes (see below). But if your breath has a stronger odor that isn't going away, it could be a sign of something more series, such as:
- Oral infections (tooth decay, gum disease, open wounds from dental surgery or mouth sores)
- Chronic acid reflux
- Some cancers
- Sinus issues
The aforementioned conditions may make your breath take on a chemical odor or like blood if a wound in present. There are a few conditions known to have very distinct scents and these are also important to look out for:
- Diabetes -- Fruit or acetone-like (nail polish remover)
- Sleep Apnea -- Sour
- Kidney Failure -- Fishy or like ammonia or urine
While it may be uncomfortable, the best way to determine if your symptoms match any of those above is to have a friend or family member smell your breath and explain what scent they detect. If you notice any of these symptoms, it's important to get them checked out.
How to Treat Bad Breath
Knocking out bad breath doesn't have to be complicated, but it does require some daily steps. Following these suggestions can help you manage your bad breath and prevent it on a daily basis:
- Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water.
- Take a daily fish oil supplement.
- Drink black tea.
- Quit smoking.
- Take a daily probiotic supplement to replenish good bacteria.
- Enjoy herbs like spearmint, peppermint, parsley and rosemary in your meals.
- Eat a balanced diet with plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
- Brush, floss and use mouthwash twice a day.
If these tips don't help you resolve your halitosis issue, be sure to speak with your dentist and/or primary care physician to determine the underlying cause of your bad breath and figure out the best course of treatment.
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