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6 Causes of Chronic Bad Breath

We’ve all experienced bad breath after eating a plate of liver and onions (okay, maybe not–who eats liver these days?), but what do you do if you experience bad breath on a regular basis that doesn’t seem to go away no matter how well you brush, floss, and use mouthwash?

In general, bad breath is caused by the growth of bacteria, which use sulfur and other elements rather than oxygen to breathe, creating smelly compounds. But what triggers the abnormal growth of these bacteria? There are several potential causes of bad breath that need to be considered, because several of them could be serious health risks.

Sleep Apnea, Snoring, and Chronic Morning Breath

Morning breath happens to everybody once in awhile, but if you experience it every morning, sleep disordered breathing may be the cause. Normally, you should breathe through your nose at night, but if you are having difficulty breathing you may be breathing through your mouth, instead. Breathing through your mouth dries up your mouth and allows bacteria to flourish.

The obstruction in your airway that’s forcing you to breathe through your mouth may be causing snoring, too, and if it’s really serious, you may experience sleep apnea, in which your breathing actually stops at night. Watch out for other symptoms of sleep apnea, such as morning headaches, sleepiness during the day, lack of energy, and depression.

Gum Disease

Gum disease occurs when oral bacteria infect the pockets around your teeth. Your gums may be red and inflamed, and you may notice some gum recession. When bacteria grow in these pockets, anaerobic bacteria can flourish. This not only leads to a serious risk of tooth loss, but also puts your overall health at risk, increasing your risk of heart disease, kidney problems, pregnancy complications, and diabetes.

We can treat gum disease, and we offer an advanced new treatment–Perio Protect–which can help prevent its return.

Infected Teeth

When cavities become large enough that bacterial colonies can establish themselves inside your teeth, the anaerobic bacteria take over. You can brush and floss all you want, but nothing can reach these bacteria sheltered inside your teeth. The only way to get rid of these bacteria is to treat the tooth with a root canal, although if we don’t act quickly enough, the tooth may not be salvageable, and may have to be replaced with a dental implant.

Tonsil Stones

Your tonsils are located on either side of your throat at the back of your mouth. They are designed to prevent airborne debris and infectious organisms from penetrating into your body. This means they are full of textures pockets that catch this debris and bacteria. Sometimes, a colony of living bacteria establishes itself in your tonsils, with the resultant plaque forming a solid, white mass called a tonsil stone. They can give off a lot of smell, and when they do it’s often a sign that you have a significant bacterial presence elsewhere in the mouth, such as the gums or the inside of a tooth.

Dry Mouth

You may not have any particular infection site, but if your body isn’t producing enough saliva, bacteria can flourish everywhere in your mouth. Brushing and flossing can help diminish the bacterial presence, but mouthwash–especially if it contains alcohol–can actually make the problem worse. Instead, try tracking down the cause of your dry mouth, and use replacement saliva to help keep your mouth moist until you can restore your body’s natural saliva production.

Diet, Illness, and Medications

There are some potential causes of bad breath that aren’t related to oral bacteria. For example, if you are on a low-carb diet, your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis, which increases the concentration of ketones in your breath, which can make it smell unpleasant.

Diabetes can lead to bad breath, too, as well as some other illnesses, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In rare cases, bad breath may be linked to cancer.

Some medications can cause bad breath. Usually, this is because they lead to dry mouth, but sometimes it’s related to the breakdown of the chemicals.

We Can Track Down the Cause of Your Bad Breath

If you are suffering from bad breath and want to learn why, please call (614) 848-5001 for an appointment with Columbus, OH dentist Mike Firouzian at the Center for Family & Cosmetic dentistry. We will help you determine what’s causing your bad breath and find the right treatment to resolve it.