You’re having a private conversation with someone, so you lean in to prevent others from hearing. The person you’re talking to backs away. You take a tiny step forward and lean in again. Then they back away. This happens one or two more times when it hits you: YOU HAVE BAD BREATH! We all expect to have halitosis if we’ve eaten something pungent like a chili dog with lots of raw onions, but what causes bad breath if we haven’t been eating odoriferous foods? The truth is that there are a number of things that could be causing your stink mouth. Lucky for you, I know what they are and how to combat them.
- You have gum disease. If you’ve been skipping out on flossing for a while, then your breath may be the result of gum disease. The plaque and tartar that build along the gumline definitely don’t smell good, but it’s the infection forming in the pockets of your gums that results in really bad breath. First, pick up some floss and get to work (and don’t be alarmed if your gums bleed a little). Next, pick up your phone and call my office so we can take care of the disease before it leads to tooth loss.
- You have tonsil stones. When bacteria, mucus, and microscopic food particles accumulate in the pits and crevices of your tonsils, they harden into yellowish and very stinky stones. Tonsil stones usually work their way out naturally, but while you wait for that to happen, you emit a funky smell every time you exhale. To minimize your chances of developing tonsil stones, be sure to clean the back of your mouth and tongue very thoroughly when you brush.
- You’re sick. Respiratory problems such as bronchitis and sinus infections and digestive problems such as acid reflux are just some of the illnesses that can cause bad breath. The good news is that the unpleasant smelling side effects will go away once you’re well. The bad news is that you’ll just need to brush your teeth a LOT until you are.
- You haven’t been cleaning your tongue. If you look carefully at the top surface of your tongue, you’ll see it is full of little (or big for some people) grooves that are the perfect hiding place for bacteria and food particles. Brushing the top of your tongue or scraping it with a tongue scraper, ideally, will help prevent bad breath. Scraping your tongue on a daily basis will remove all those odor emitting particles and greatly improve your breath.
- You have acid reflux, which is commonly known as GER or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Over half of the people who have this condition do not have any symptoms and therefore do not even know they have it. You might notice that some mornings when you wake you have a sour taste in your mouth or a slight pressure or light burn in the middle of your sternum (breastbone). GER comes in varying degrees of severity, like most conditions, and yet they all can create gastric odors to come out of your mouth. In addition to eating acidic foods, GERD is often times associated with sleep apnea so it can happen in the waking hours and in the at sleep times of your day.
If the above causes of bad breath don’t apply to you, then call my office to schedule an appointment. Together, we’ll figure out what is causing your halitosis and what you can do to get rid of it.