Bad breath, also called halitosis, is an embarrassing problem for many and can affect people of any age.
Bad breath can make your social life difficult, cause anxiety, and affect your confidence level and self-esteem.
The problem is often caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth that break down food particles, giving off noxious odors or gases that smell really bad. The malodor basically comes from volatile sulfur compounds in mouth air.
The bacteria buildup can be due to many reasons and there are many common offenders. Fortunately, once you understand these offenders, you can learn simple and effective ways to get rid of it.
Here are the top 10 worst offenders of bad breath.
1. Poor Dental Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is the most common offender of bad breath.
If you don’t brush and floss daily, food particles remain in your mouth. With time, it causes a colorless, sticky film of bacteria (plaque) to form on your teeth.
If not brushed away, the bacteria start producing odors. In fact, maintaining good oral health is essential to reducing bad breath, so be sure to brush your teeth twice daily, floss between your teeth at least once daily and scrape your tongue daily.
2. Trapped Food
Food ‘trapped’ in your mouth, especially between your teeth, is another common cause of stinky breath.
After a meal, any food particles that remain between your teeth, in your gums or on your tongue can release their odor into your breath. The smell can get worse as that food decays.
If the food particles remain for a longer time, they promote bacterial growth, eventually leading to gum disease.
People who smoke a lot often suffer from a particular type of oral odor known as smoker’s breath.
When you smoke cigarettes, it leaves smoke particles in the throat and lungs that cause the odor. In fact, the smell of a freshly smoked cigarette can linger in the lungs for several hours.
Another reason why smoking causes bad breath is that it dries out your mouth. Smoking reduces saliva production, which in turn allows the growth of certain types of bacteria in your mouth that cause bad breath.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Dental Research, Dental Clinics, Dental Prospects indicates that long-term smoking would significantly reduce salivary flow rate and increase oral and dental disorders associated with dry mouth, especially cervical caries, gingivitis, tooth mobility, calculus and halitosis.
Any kind of alcoholic beverages – be it beer, wine or cocktails –can surely make your breath smell bad due to its lingering smell.
In addition, being diuretic in nature, alcoholic drinks cause dry mouth. This leads to a reduction in saliva production, which in turn leads to the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
Alcohol intake is also associated with heartburn and acid reflux, which in turn adds to bad breath.
Plus, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to repeated vomiting, which gives you foul-smelling breath.
5. Eating Pungent Foods
Certain foods can make your breath stink quite badly. Garlic and onions are among the top offenders.
Both garlic and onions can leave their sulfuric mark on more than just your tongue.
When the sulfurous compounds are digested, they reach the lungs via the bloodstream and cause a foul onion or garlic breath when you exhale.
Also, their byproducts can enter your bloodstream and the smell can last for hours.
Along with garlic and onions, asparagus, certain fish and cruciferous vegetables can also make your breath stink.
If you notice that your breath seems stale after drinking a cup of warm coffee, it could be the result of your favorite beverage.
The caffeine in coffee causes dry mouth by slowing saliva production. A lack of saliva allows bacteria to thrive inside your mouth, one of the key reasons behind bad breath.
Less saliva can make it difficult to wash away and digest particles of food sticking to the tongue or teeth, which can promote tooth decay.
Additionally, loading up a cup of coffee with cream, milk or even artificially flavored non-dairy creamer has the additional disadvantage of smelling acrid, and it also encourages bacterial growth.
You can swap your regular coffee for green to help beat bad breath. Green tea is rich in antioxidants that have antimicrobial and deodorant effects that help maintain oral health.