Skip to main content

Halitosis Getting You Down?

By Jill Feilmeier on March 7, 2013 in Dental Health

Couple walking on a bridge

Bad breath – it's embarrassing. But it could be telling you something.

Whether you call it bad breath or halitosis, it could be a sign that you have other health problems – like diabetes, sinus or lung infections. There are many causes of bad breath:

  • What you eat: Consuming garlic or onions will affect the air you exhale. If you don't brush or floss every day, particles of food can remain in your mouth. They collect bacteria, which can cause bad breath.
  • Gum disease: Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth is another one of the warning signs of gum disease.
  • Dry mouth: If the saliva in your mouth decreases, food particles will not be cleaned away. Dry mouth can be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems or by continuously breathing through your mouth. Your dentist may prescribe artificial saliva, suggest a sugarless candy or ask you to increase the fluids you drink.
  • Smoking and tobacco: Tobacco is bad for your health – and your breath. Tobacco users are more likely to have gum disease and are at higher risk for oral cancer.
  • Medical conditions: Bad breath may indicate a disease, such as sinus or lung infections, diabetes, bronchitis, and some liver or kidney diseases.

If you're worried about what's causing your bad breath, check with your dentist. Don't skip on regular dental checkups. If your dentist finds your mouth healthy, you may be referred to a physician for further tests.

Brush and floss regularly, including your tongue. Schedule regular professional cleanings. And while mouthwash will mask your breath odor, it's only a temporary fix.