You probably have experienced how uncomfortable it is to closely listen to someone with a stinking breath. Poor dental hygiene, tobacco products, certain foods, and mouth infections are some causes of bad breath. Most people the basics of maintaining a minty-fresh breath by brushing, flossing and use of a mouthwash. Despite these efforts, some people still have horrible breath.
The Main Causes of Bad Breath
According to Harold Katz, DDS, a bacteriologist, dentist, and the founder of California Breath Clinics, poor dental hygiene is not the main cause of bad breath. Mouth dryness particularly when you are asleep is the most common cause of morning breath, Kats clarifies. This is because the lack of moisture in your mouth due to a halt in saliva production creates a favorable environment for bacteria to thrive.
If your mouth only stinks in the morning, there is nothing to worry about. Brushing is enough to eliminate the stench. However, some people have dry mouth which is usually accompanied by bad smell that lasts the whole day due to certain prescribed medications. According to Katz, 75% of prescription medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and blood pressure drugs trigger dry mouth as a side effect. It is thus important to contact your doctor if you notice people distancing themselves from you when talking to find out if your medications are to blame. If that’s the case, sipping more water, chewing sugarless gum, or changing your medication can be very helpful.
In some cases, chronic bad breath can be an indication that something is amiss in your body. Surprising, certain scents can give your doctor or dentist a hint of what is happening.
Here are 5 types of bad breath and what they say about your health:
Chances are you have a sinus infection, allergies, or post-nasal drip. If you have a chronic sinus infection, oral bacteria may convert protein in mucus into a compound known as skatole. You can overcome the problem by rinsing your sinuses regularly or taking allergy medications. If your doctor finds out that you have bacteria infection in your mouth, you may start taking antibiotics.
A fruity breath may be an indication that you are diabetic. Normally, sugar in your bloodstream is transferred to the cells where it is used for energy production. When this fails, blood sugar increases and your cells initiate energy production from the fat in your body. Compounds known as ketones are produced as byproducts of this process. This is what triggers fruity a fruity breath, in reference to Shilpi Agarwal, MD, an integrative medicine physician and a family medicine doctor in Washington DC. Agarwal recommends that patients with fruity smell should take a blood test to find out if they have developed diabetes.
Sour Milk Breath
If your breath smells like sour milk, chances are that you have lactose intolerance. According to Katz, this smell may signal that your digestive system is not breaking down the protein in dairy products as supposed. Obviously, you might also notice other symptoms such as gas, cramps, and diarrhea after consuming large amounts milk products.
A Dirty Diaper Breath
If your mouth smells like a dirty diaper, it may indicate that you have a tonsil stone. This usually happens when debris and bacteria accumulate in the crevices to form visible stones. Agarwal says that it usually looks like a rotten, dirty diaper. The best way to deal with this problem is to have the offending particle physically removed by your primary care provider with a swab or forceps.
A Rotten Breath
If your breath smells like something rotten, you probably have a lung disease. According to Katz, if you have a very foul odor which is worse than the traditional breath, it could signal that you have a lung problem. The problem can range from an infection (such as pneumonia) to lung cancer. Amusingly, breath tests meant for identifying odors related to cancer have been established. It is important to consult your doctor for an examination if you suspect something is amiss with your lungs. Your doctor will first listen with a stethoscope and then refer you to a blood test, a chest x-ray, or other examinations.
How to Prevent and Stop Bad Breath
Paying your doctor a visit for a medical checkup to find out the exact cause of your bad breath is paramount. You should be open and frank with the healthcare provider performing the examination. The following ways can help prevent and stop bad breath:
- Observe proper oral hygiene by brushing at least twice daily.
- Stimulate saliva flow by chewing a sugarless gum.
- Eat foods rich in fiber to remove oral bacteria.
- Use a mouthwash
- Avoid drying medications
- Quit smoking and alcoholism.
- Sip water throughout the day to prevent dryness in your mouth.
- Breathe through your nose rather than your mouth.
- Avoid dairy products in your diet.