There are 5 main causes of bad breath:
- Plaque build up
- Nasal and throat issues
- Dry mouth
- External factors
The signs and symptoms for plaque accumulation of these include:
- White tongue
- White tongue is caused by an accumulation of plaque.
- Insufficient brushing and flossing and missing a spot when cleaning
- Areas where food gets trapped
- Morning breath
- Old dental work that is failing
Infections causing bad breath may include:
- Gum disease, periodontal disease, bleeding gums
- Bacteria involved in bleeding gums are anaerobic bacteria
- Abscesses from gums and teeth
- Decaying teeth or holes in teeth
- Respiratory tract infections causing mucus and a build up of bacteria
Indications of nasal or throat problems are:
- Nasal discharge or a post nasal drip
- Chronic sinusitis
- Loss of smell
Plaque is a film of bacteria. Plaque releases a gas (hydrogen sulphide). This gas smells like rotten eggs. Plaque takes about 12 hours to accumulate. Hence the reason dentists recommend brushing twice a day. Sometimes after a long day the film of bacteria can be felted and we often describe this as having “furry” teeth.
The bacteria in bleeding gums produce a gas (methyl mercaptan) that is foul smelling and is the most common cause of halitosis. The bacteria formed from nasal or throat problems generally accumulate in the gag reflex or throat area. The gas released is dimethyl sulphide and smells of cabbage or petrol.
Dry mouth can cause bad breath. This can be caused by foods containing caffeine and other lifestyle factors. Medical conditions are a big contributor of dry mouth with many medications having a dry mouth side effect. Anti-depressants are one such drug. Other medical problems that can have bad breath as a side effect are diabetes, lung infections, colds and flu, reflux.
External factors include foods that cause bad odours like garlic and onions and coffee. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, chewing tobacco, alcohol, recreational drugs are also a factors.