Bad Breath: Identifying the Causes of Halitosis

Causes of HalitosisI have bad breath. Correction – I had bad breath.
Bad Breath, or Halitosis, is the condition wherein the exhaled breath of a person is accompanied by an unpleasant or rancid smell.
Bad breath is usually caused by improper or lackadaisical oral hygiene, though it can also be a symptom of an underlying disease or abnormality.

Bad Breath Impacts Self-Confidence Heavily

As having bad breath is considered as a negative in our society, I often found myself having to cover my mouth when talking or not opening my mouth enough when speaking because I thought it would lessen the chances of the rancid smell escaping my mouth. I felt terrible shame and fear. I was ashamed that I was not able to care of my mouth properly. I was also in constant fear of people noticing or finding out I have bad breath and be ridiculed for it. My confidence began to wither and wither to the point that I became a quiet person. I withdrew further into myself and away from my social circles. Then I decided that enough was enough and I took a trip to the dentist.

At first I was nervous and embarrassed to say my problem. But the dentist was very friendly and told me it was common for people to ask advice about bad breath. Though it was painfully obvious, I still asked why I had bad breath. And the answer was simple: improper oral hygiene. And a couple of other stuff.

Food Rotting Inside the Mouth

Though I brushed my teeth twice a day, I didn’t do it properly. 3 swipes in each section of my mouth and I was off. It turns out brushing improperly leaves behind some food that may have gotten stuck in the gums. I also didn’t use dental floss so sticky foods stuck in my mouth until they decomposed. Yes, bacteria and saliva break down the food stuck in the mouth for them to rot. When they rot, they emit a foul smell that primarily caused my dilemma. Food can get stuck not only in between the teeth but also in the tongue and the sides of the gums.

Spicy Foods Are No-No’s

Another reason for my bad breath is my penchant for spicy and stir-fried foods. These types of food are usually dominated by garlic and onions which greatly contribute to bad breath. Apparently, when the food is digested and meshed in the bloodstream, those substances that used to make up garlics and onions are taken to the lungs where they are excreted by breathing. Since each breath is accompanied by these odors, bad breath occurs.

Crash Dieting Worsens the Problem

Since I started losing self-confidence, I thought of a lot of fixes in my mind that I believed would help my problem. Since I initially thought that eating food caused my bad breath, maybe I should not eat much. Worst decision ever. Eating less and irregularly great increases the chances of contracting Halitosis. Eating less leads the body to break down excess proteins instead of carbs. The result is “ketobreath” which is made up primarily of ketones. See, a primary product in the breaking down of proteins is ammonia which is extremely foul-smelling. This is released in a person’s excrements, one which is breathing.

Smoking is sure to lead to Bad Breath

There are also other causes of bad breath – some of which thankfully did not cause mine. A major cause of bad breath aside from improper oral hygiene is smoking. Smoking can irritate the gums and stain a person’s teeth. Tobacco-based products generally have these side effects on the mouth in addition to dulling one’s sense of taste. Smoking might also cause gum disease – another cause of halitosis.

Xerostomia

Some medications may also cause bad breath. This happens when the side effect of a medication is decreased saliva production. This leads to a dry mouth. Saliva helps in washing away food stuck inside the mouth so decreased saliva flow greatly adds to the chances of contracting gum disease.

Symptom to a Medical Disorder

Finally, bad breath may be caused by an underlying problem that is cannot be fixed by proper brushing or flossing. Halitosis may be a symptom of the following conditions: liver failure, diabetes, chronic bronchitis, kidney failure, and abnormalities in the respiratory tract or the intestinal tract.

Whatever the cause may be, according the experts at Drescher & Cohen DDS, it is terribly important to consult a dentist immediately at the first signs of bad breath. Don’t be ashamed to admit the problem. It may seem like a minor problem, but when it begins to affect one’s lifestyle it becomes a terrible bane to a person. Once it begins to take hold of every aspect of your life and it affects self-confidence, it limits personal growth.

Remember that a minor problem can always lead to bigger ones – just like mine.

About the author

Patricia Montoya

Patricia Montoya

I’m Patricia, a mom to two rambunctious boys who both love candy and just can’t seem to get enough of it. I write about health topics packed with information about dental care designed to help EVERYONE from all walks of life.

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