Dentistry,  Health Literacy

Why Your Breath Smells & What to do About it

Bad Breath

If you’re dealing with chronic bad breath, you probably want to fix this problem. Smelly breath can be extremely embarrassing, especially in social situations. It’s not only a possible indicator of a bigger problem but you’re also likely to experience ridicule because of it.

This, of course, depends on how severe your case is. But even the slightest sent of smelly breath can put people off, with them often pulling faces, turning away and making hurtful comments. So even a minor case could affect someone’s self-esteem and confidence.

It really is a demoralizing and crippling condition that affects thousands of people in all countries, some of which haven’t even realized they have it.

Now considering you are reading this article, I assume that you have realised that you do have bad breath (or halitosis) and want to get to the bottom of it.

Well good news, that’s exactly what I’m going to show in this article! I’ll go over a few of the different causes of bad breath and what you can do to treat them.

You Might Not Be Drinking Enough Water

Dehydration is one of the leading causes of bad breath. If you’re not drinking enough water on a daily basis then you’re going to experience a number of negative symptoms as a result. Breath issues are just one of the symptoms that you might experience (others can include headaches, low energy levels and regular muscle cramps).

In order to control the bacteria and fungi found in your mouth, your saliva levels must be high. If it isn’t, because of dehydration, then this bacteria and fungi will have the freedom to act how they please – which will result in problems like infection and bad breath.

So if you notice that your breath smells then you might want to up your intake of water. Now, there is a correct way to go about this.

It’s a smart idea to monitor your water intake over a week and keep track of how much water you consume during a normal day. Once you’ve done that, you should look at how much water a person of your height and weight should be drinking.

If you’re not drinking enough water, add more water to your diet. After a few days or this, your bad breath should subside, provided this is the root cause.

Your Bad Breath Could Be the Symptom of an Infection/Illness

If you’re experiencing other health problems in addition to your bad breath, it’s possible that your breath is actually a symptom of a much larger problem. Bad breath is linked to all kinds of health problems.

What health problems can cause your breath to smell? Well, actually quite a few. It can be caused by infections like stomach ulcers, tonsillitis, and even heart disease. Now even though all of these are serious conditions, they aren’t as bad as tonsil stones for causing bad breath.

Tonsil stones are basically little clumps of mucus, particles of food and dead cells that have calcified and developed within the tonsils. They have a stone like consistency and color, which is where they get their name from, and can cause a number of stressful symptoms – which include tonsil inflammation, trouble swallowing and extremely bad breath.

The latter is a result of the sulfur producing bacteria that cause the stone development in the first place combining with what is basically rotting food. It is an extremely strong scent and if your breath gets really bad then I recommend you have a look at your tonsils.

No matter what the infection or cause is, don’t be afraid to bring up your breath issues with your doctor. It’s definitely not something you should have to be ashamed of and you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t tell them.
It’s a health issue, and you should make sure your doctor is aware of the problem.

Your Breath Issues Could Be Linked To Your Diet

Do you eat a healthy diet? If you eat poorly, your diet may be causing your breath to smell. A lot of people that are overweight suffer from bad breath.

This is mainly due to their immune system not being able to fight against bacteria effectively because it’s not being fuelled properly. If you’re not giving your body the nutrients and vitamins it needs then you are going to experience health issues.

So if your diet isn’t the best then try to eat a healthier diet. Ideally, you want to have a diet full of fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, good sources of carbohydrates and fibre. The exact amounts of each with vary for each person so I recommend you do some further research into what you should be eating.

Also, specific foods have be shown to have antibacterial properties which help you fight against your bad breath, directly. This includes food like garlic, onion, apple cider vinegar, yogurt and ginger (there are many more). You don’t need to start consuming all of them daily but I recommend trying them out to see which suits you best.

You’ll also want to be mindful of which foods can cause breath odours. Even though onion and garlic both have antibacterial properties, they can cause lingering bad breath. You don’t have to avoid these foods entirely, but you will want to be careful about when you eat them.

It may take some time before the smell of these foods goes away.

Mints and Mouthwash Can Cause Breath Issues

A lot of people that have bad breath consume mints or use mouthwash. While these substances can cover up bad breath in the short term, they can actually cause more breath issues in the long run.

The majority of mints contain sugar, which can feed the bacteria that causes your breath to smell and is obviously not good for health, so it eats into the point I made above.

Mouthwashes usually contain alcohol, which causes dehydration and as a result, dry mouth.

You don’t have to give up mints and mouthwashes completely. However, you should try to use these things sparingly. If you’re overly reliant on these substance, you’re only going to make this problem worse.

Your Exercise Routine Could Be Contributing To the Problem

It’s very important to get exercise throughout the day. You won’t want to spend your entire day sitting on the couch. Everyone should be exercising at least 3 times per week, even it is only for a short period of time (HIIT training is a great way to achieve this).

With that said, exercising in certain ways can have an impact on the smell of your breath.

Studies have shown that outdoor exercise and bad breath are linked. Pollen and pollution can both change the way your breath smells. The dry mouth that can be caused by cold air can also change the scent of your breath – however if you make sure you have a bottle of water then this shouldn’t be much of a problem.

You don’t have to give up outdoor exercise for the sake of your breath. However, you’ll want to be cautious about how you exercise outside. You should limit the time you spend outside when the weather is cold.

You should also avoid exercising in areas that have significant amounts of pollen or pollution.

You Might Need To Take Better Care Of Your Teeth

It should go without saying that a lot of breath issues are linked to poor oral hygiene. While you should look at some of the other causes of bad breath, you should also try to take better care of your teeth.

Simply brushing your teeth twice a day isn’t enough to keep them properly healthy, even if your dentist has told you this. This is merely the bare minimum of what you should be doing.

Instead I recommend you brush & floss your teeth three times each day, once after breakfast, at noon and before bed. This routine is much more effective at clearing away plague build up and getting food out the pockets around your gums.

Now you don’t necessarily need to make use of mouthwash, the above will be enough. However if you do want to use it then I recommend you get one without any alcohol.

Also, a lot of sulfur producing bacteria live on and around your tongue. Therefore making use of a tongue scraper when you brush your teeth is a great thing to do too. If you take the time to clean your tongue, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your breath.

If you’re already brushing, flossing, and using a tongue scraper, and you’re still experiencing breath issues, schedule an appointment with your dentist. You should explain your breath issues to them and have them take a look at your teeth. They may be able to present a solution to you.

Once you figure out why your breath smells, you’ll be able to resolve the problem and hopefully not have to worry about it ever again. You’ll be able to keep your breath smelling fresh and clean, just make sure you don’t opt for the quick short term antibiotic cure.

These rarely work over the long term so they can be a waste of time. Obviously consider what your dentist says (after all they know best) but make sure to keep what I’ve talked about in mind.

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Lyle MacLeod is a part time blogger, website builder and SEO expert who's trying to work his way through an International Marketing Degree in Glasgow. Hopefully some of you will be able to learn something from his articles! You can follow him on LinkedIn.

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