Morning breath, coffee breath, garlic breath, dragon’s breath – you name it! Bad breath, in all its forms, is the last thing you want people to remember you by.
But a quick breath check can save you from more than just an awkward social situation. Breath-test technology can detect stomach cancer in its earliest stages and could save your life, according to a study published in the April 2015 journal Gut.
From everyday habits to severe illnesses, here are six reasons why you might be struggling with bad breath:
1. You’re not cleaning your mouth correctly
This isn’t the most surprising thing, but bad dental hygiene is the most likely cause of bad breath. “Halitosis is often the first sign of poor oral hygiene that may eventually lead to further periodontal problems,” Prof. Walter A. Bretz, from the New York University College of Dentistry, previously told Reader’s Digest. If you are only brushing your teeth you are only reaching 25% of your mouth. What about the rest of your mouth? Using a mouthwash cleans and freshens the hard to reach places in your mouth kill bacteria.
2. You’re not drinking enough water
"Dehydration can cause halitosis because bacteria that live in the mouth tend to multiply as the mouth dries out," says Dr. Harold Katz, a dentist, bacteriologist and founder of The Breath Company. Dehydration also causes a decrease in the production of saliva which fights bacteria in the mouth. Luckily, the solution is simple: Drink more water!
3. You’re drinking the wrong fluids
Like the effects of dehydration, an influx of the wrong fluids can temporarily slow your saliva production. Drinking large quantities of alcohol and caffeine leads to a condition called xerostomia, which we all know more commonly as dry mouth which can lead to bad breath says Listerine research.
4. You’re not watching what you eat
Eating plenty of vegetables and herbs, while avoiding foods that contribute to bad breath like those high in sugar or with particularly potent flavours. Try to avoid spicy or odorous foods like garlics and onions if you’re worried about bad breath. If you find that you can’t avoid these meal enhancers, try eating an apple or yogurt afterwards to help fight the compounds released. Alternatively, you can also rinse your mouth with a strong mouthwash after eating strong flavoured foods.
5. You have a sore throat or post-nasal drip
Five percent of bad breath problems originate in the nose or sinuses, with 3-5% originating from the tonsils, according to Dr Mel Rosenberg, professor of microbiology at Tel Aviv University's Department of Oral Biology. The same bacteria that gives you bad breath are the ones that also infect your throat and tonsils. Post-nasal drip can accumulate at the back of the mouth and on the tongue, so this area should be gently cleaned with a tongue scraper, according to Dr Rosenberg.
6. You might have an underlying health problem
Lastly, bad breath can sometimes be a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition. If your breath has a distinctive smell, it can indicate a disease. Some cancers, liver failure, and other metabolic diseases can cause halitosis, due to the specific mixes of chemicals that they produce, according to Medical News Today. Symptoms of the life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis also include a sweet and fruity odour on the breath.
Most bad breath is caused by poor oral hygiene and not being diligent enough in the removal of bacteria in the mouth. A twice-daily routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash like Listerine LISTERINE®will prevent most forms of bad breath, and make sure to brush your tongue, too.
This post is sponsored by Listerine produced by Brandstudio24 for Health24.