Bad breath is in and of itself a problem: it’s unpleasant, unattractive, and can affect your interactions with others. But sometimes bad breath is more than a sign of bad hygiene, it’s a symptom of an underlying problem or health condition.

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by a few different things. It can be caused by something as harmless as foods with strong odors, like garlic or onion, or food being trapped between teeth that need to be brushed or flossed out. But it can have some more sinister causes, including tooth decay or gum disease. Using alcohol-based mouthwashes can also exacerbate bad breath. Even though they claim to freshen your breath, the alcohol dries out the mouth, which can make your breath smell even worse.

Other medical problems can cause bad breath as well, particularly those that involve digestion, stomach, or liver issues. Dry mouth due to dehydration, mouth breathing, or medicinal side effects can cause bad breath, as can infections such as strep throat, tonsillitis, and sinusitis.

How do you find out what’s causing bad breath?

First, make sure you’re dental hygiene habits are up to snuff. Bad breath isn’t always a sign of a deeper medical issue, so before you panic, make sure that you’re brushing your teeth at least twice daily, flossing every day to get out the tricky bits of food, and that you brush your tongue when brushing your teeth—food particles and residue can get stuck on your tongue, too. Also, consider what you eat. If you eat a lot of stinky foods, cut back for a time to see if that makes a difference in your halitosis.

If your dental hygiene is amazing and you still have bad breath, then it’s time to see a dentist. Your dentist can confirm that your oral care routine is working (and if it’s not, can help you fix it) and determine whether the issue is caused by something else. If it’s an issue of gum disease, dry mouth, or tooth decay, that’s something your dentist can catch and treat. For other issues, they will be able to recommend that you see a doctor who can thoroughly diagnose your issue.

Is it time you found a solution to your bad breath? Whether it’s from dry mouth, diet, or something more serious, we can help! Set up an appointment today with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry.