There are numerous causes for bad breath, ranging from the simple and somewhat easy to correct, to the more complex and difficult to treat. Identifying the correct cause(s) for your bad breath, will make you better equipped to treating your condition. In most cases, bacteria are the underlying culprit of halitosis. The tricky part is identifying the root cause for the bacteria (i.e. why it’s there) and understanding where the bacteria are located.
We’ve all said or heard it before... "I have garlic breath." But it’s really more than just smelling like the food you just consumed. Some foods not only have a strong smell, such as garlic and onions, but they also release unpleasant odors when processed by the digest system. Other foods and drink leave an after-film that can lead to an offensive breath odor that isn't necessarily a halitosis odor. This sort of bad breath is highly superficial and sorts itself out over time. It can also be corrected with a quick brushing, water, mints, gum or chewing parsley and mint.
Smoker’s breath is more complex than simply smelling like smoke. Smoking dries out the mouth, creating an environment that is hospitable to bad breath causing bacteria. Furthermore, tar, nicotine, chemicals and a variety of unpleasant particles lodge into the teeth, various nooks and crannies and soft oral tissues, resulting in an unpleasant smell. Obviously, the best cure for smoker’s breath is smoking cession, but if you struggle with quitting, there are a number of effective smoker’s breath products such as Smoker’s Breath Aid that improve the oral environment and freshen up breath.
When you smoke, it is important to practice rigorous oral hygiene. Be sure to brush twice daily and floss regularly. My professional recommendation would be to invest in a quality sonic toothbrush.
As mentioned before, dry mouth (also known at Xerostamia), a common side effect of aging, various medications and cancer treatments, can lead to chronic bad breath. Saliva is an important part a healthy functioning mouth. It is essentially the first responder of the digestive system, initiating the efficient breakdown of food. Without appropriate amounts of salvia, food particles can linger in the mouth, releasing putrid odors, leading to offensive breath. If you suffer from dry mouth / xerostamia, consider a product such as Oramoist, which will help to keep the mouth moist and create a less bacteria-friendly environment. A Hydro Floss machine can also help to dislodge any food particles that are lodged between teeth, under the gums, or deep within the taste buds.
Biological Causes / Your Genes
Perhaps the trickiest root cause for halitosis is a number of inherited features that may increase the likelihood of bacteria in the mouth. Genetic sinus problems can lead to post nasal drip, which in turns results in bad-breath causing bio-film. There are also physiological influences that we inherit from our parents, such as larger-than-normal taste-buds and teeth with unusually deep crevices, both of which make excellent bacteria breeding grounds. These sort of biological factors require special attention and specialized devices such as Hydro Floss devices and sinus irrigation systems can really help to purge bacteria from their hiding places and prevent their adherence.
About the Author: Dr. Anthony Dailley specializes in curing bad breath and founded the Center for Breath Treatment, the world’s premiere Halitosis Clinic, as well as NovaBay Pharmaceutical, a publicly held biopharmaceutical company. He has been practicing dentistry since 1981 and also conducts halitosis-related research for the California Pacific Lab. Dr Dailley has a degree in Cell & Molecular Biology from San Francisco State University and a dental degree from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry.