What causes bad breath?

Bad breath and morning breath are two totally separate happenings; one is entirely natural, and one is entirely not. It’s normal to notice a little undertone of a particularly pungent food, like red wine or garlic, on your breath after a meal, but if you’re noticing a perpetual odour then this could signify something a little more serious. Bad breath, or halitosis, is estimated to affect 25% of people around the world, and there’s a lot of reasons why it occurs. We at The Smile Centre are going to explore with you what causes bad breath and what you can do to treat it.


This is what causes bad breath

Smoking and tobacco products creates the infamous ‘smoker’s breath’, a distinctive and stale-smelling odour in the mouth. Smoke particles and chemicals are left in the throat and lungs after smoking, so they’re dislodged when you speak and are carried out on our exhale. Because smoke tends to hang about in our lungs too, the smell is often stale because these particles have been clinging to your tissue. In fact, tobacco smoke contains more than 60 aromatic properties, most of which are dangerous to the body as well as strong-smelling. Smoking also causes bad breath by drying out your mouth, because the drying effect the gases have cause bacteria to thrive.


Low-carbohydrate diets, such as the popular ‘keto diet’, achieves rapid weight loss but also carries the popular side effect of bad breath. We get a lot of glucose from carbohydrates that our system breaks down to use as fuel. During low-carb diets we don’t receive this essential fuel, so the body uses the fat we have stored as an alternative energy source. This process produces ketones, which our body flushes out as waste, but not before they become present in our breath. They either smell strangely sweet or strangely alcoholic (kind of like nail varnish remover).


Poor dental hygiene is, of course, a huge factor in how our breath smells. Brushing and flossing remove small food particles that would otherwise build up on our teeth. When these sugars aren’t removed they attract bacteria for a feeding frenzy. When the bacteria break down these sugars, they release foul-smelling toxins that taint your breath. Proper cleaning ensures we don’t develop cavities and gum disease which, as well as contributing to bad breath, are preventable yet very common dental conditions.


Dry mouth or not enough saliva contributes to bad breath, too. Saliva is a natural lubricant in the mouth that cleans and protects, stopping food debris from clinging to surfaces. When we have a dry mouth, the remnants of food and sugars stick to and between tooth surfaces much more easily. This attracts bacteria that feast there, releasing the aforementioned toxins that give us bad breath.


How to prevent bad breath

Preventing bad breath is as simple as making the right choices. Cutting down on smoking, for example, will eventually lessen your smoker’s breath and have great health benefits for your teeth and body. Regular cleaning like brushing and flossing is essential to overall fresh breath, however, because the condition is entirely preventable. Brush your tongue too, as this is where bacteria, food, and chemicals can build up. Toothbrushes often come with a little tongue scraper or textured back to do this. However, it’s always a good idea to visit a dental hygienist, too. By doing this we can help your teeth and gums happy and healthy, inevitably affecting the freshness of your breath. We’ll spot any early warning signs of dental conditions, too, and provide professional cleanings and advice.


Don’t let bad breath leave a bad taste in your mouth. Stay on top of your dental hygiene and limit harmful lifestyle habits to improve your breath tenfold. Book your hygiene appointment in Cornwall on 01579 342348 or enquire online today.