Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth can be a warning sign of gum (periodontal) disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup on the teeth, which leads to bacteria producing toxins that irritate the gums. If left untreated, it can cause serious damage to the gums and jaw. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be embarrassing and even cause anxiety.
Store shelves are full of products designed to combat bad breath, but many of these are only temporary solutions as they don't address the underlying cause. Some people worry too much about their breath even though they have little or no smell in their mouths, while others have bad breath and don't know it. Poor oral hygiene is also linked to other oral health conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease, which can also lead to bad breath. In addition, bad breath can be caused by natural processes such as dry mouth while sleeping, or certain medications that release chemicals into the bloodstream when broken down in the body.
If bad breath persists despite controlling for these factors, it is recommended that the person see a doctor for further tests to rule out other conditions. Chronic halitosis can mean that you have an oral health problem or a condition that affects another part of your body. Halitosis is mainly caused by sulfur-producing bacteria that live on the surface of the tongue and in the throat. A diet high in sugar can also cause bad breath due to the way sugars interact with existing bacteria in the mouth.Bad breath is a very common and treatable condition in many adults.
If it is due to poor oral hygiene, dental cleaning and better oral hygiene at home are likely to help. The dentist will usually smell the breath of a person suspected of halitosis and rate the smell on a six-point intensity scale. It's difficult to assess how your own breath smells, so it's best to ask a close friend or family member to confirm your questions about bad breath.