Every so often, we like to review the causes of halitosis as a way to demonstrate just how complex this condition is. While a few oral health conditions account for most bad breath, there are plenty of less common problems that contribute to halitosis, which is why it's good to know as many as possible. How many can you name?
Before we start, it's good to acknowledge that (a) there are far more causes of halitosis than appear on this list, and (b) the overarching reason that we get bad breath is bacteria. Ninety-nine times out of 100, what's behind your oral odor is nothing more than the microbes in your mouth, which can be banished by using a good specialty breath freshening rinse or tongue scraper.
Now let's get to it! The causes of halitosis include:
- Plaque buildup. The gradual accumulation of tartar between your teeth can lead to an unpleasant scent.
- Tooth decay. Take care of your pearly whites, or else they'll foul up your breath.
- Gingivitis. Gum disease is caused by some of the same bacteria that result in bad breath.
- Smelly foods and beverages. Garlic, onions, leeks, meat, spices, coffee, alcohol and milk can all leave your palate reeking.
- Dry mouth. Also known as xerostomia, this condition allows bacteria to grow faster than normal.
- Periodontal disease. When gingivitis is so severe that it infects the bone bed that your teeth are rooted in, you've got periodontitis (and bad breath).
- Smoking/dipping. Pretty obvious, this one.
- Post-nasal drip. When allergies or sinusitis cause mucus to run down your throat, halitosis can be the result.
- Geographic tongue. If you have patches of deep grooves on the surface of your tongue, microbes may be flourishing in them.