Struggling with bad breath? Have you tried just about everything to address this problem? Chances are, you may be dealing with halitosis, a condition that requires medical attention.

This oral health problem can affect the smell of your breath and cause a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, it goes away by itself, but it can become chronic, or permanent.

Clinical research suggests that halitosis occurs in up to 50% of adult men and women. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s the third most common reason for seeing a dentist. If left unaddressed, it can lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, and social isolation.

But what causes halitosis in the first place? Does it have anything to do with your diet, oral hygiene, or dental health? Let’s find out.

What Causes Bad Breath?

You may be thinking that bad breath is related to the foods you eat, but that’s not always the case. While it’s true that garlic, onion, and other foods can affect the smell of your breath, there are several factors you need to consider.

In some cases, halitosis may indicate an underlying problem, such as tooth decay or cavities. Gum disease, chronic bronchitis, sinus infections, and other conditions can cause this issue, too.

For example, periodontitis (gum disease) is caused by bacteria buildup on the teeth and gums. The bacteria that contribute to this condition can also lead to bad breath, among other symptoms. You may also experience gum bleeding and inflammation, tooth pain, and a foul taste in the mouth.

Halitosis can also be due to postnasal drainage or infections affecting the respiratory system. In more severe cases, it may be a sign of diabetes, kidney or liver disease, acid reflux, or sleep apnea.

Diabetes, for instance, can make your breath smell like acetone. Ammonia breath, on the other hand, could be a symptom of kidney disease.

Last but not least, halitosis can be due to smoking, poor oral hygiene, diet, and other lifestyle factors. For example, the chemicals in cigarette smoke can dry out your mouth, leading to bad breath.

How to Get Rid of Halitosis

This oral health problem can be temporary or permanent, depending on its cause. Unless you have an underlying condition, you should be able to get rid of halitosis through lifestyle changes. Small things, such as flossing your teeth once or twice a day, can make all the difference.

For starters, make a habit out of brushing your teeth after every meal. Use antibacterial mouthwash throughout the day, especially after eating. Alternatively, rinse your mouth with apple cider vinegar or saltwater to reduce bacterial growth.

Try to drink more water to stay hydrated and prevent dry mouth. You can also chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva production and keep your mouth from drying out.

Limit the consumption of garlic, horseradish, onions, dairy products, and other foods that may cause bad breath. The same goes for canned fish, peanut butter, and citrus fruits.

Make these changes and see how your body reacts. If the problem persists, see your healthcare provider or dentist.

Take the Steps Needed to Freshen Your Breath

As you can see, halitosis can have a multitude of causes, from diabetes to poor oral hygiene. Cigarette smoking and tobacco products only make things worse.

On the positive side, there are steps you can take to freshen your breath. Sometimes, it’s enough to make small lifestyle changes, such as cutting back on foods and beverages with strong odors.

Remember to visit the rest of our blog for other health tips! We’ll show you how to prepare for the dentist, how to whiten your teeth, and much more.