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Causes of Bad Breath

Did You Know There Are a Ton of Bad-Breath Triggers? Well, Let Me Fill You In

Shot of a beautiful young woman checking her breath at home

Thanks to masks, you may have a heightened awareness about your breath — which is great if it's made you hypervigilant about the importance of brushing and flossing. But, for some, that still doesn't promise consistent freshness.

Here's the deal: bad breath — which can come with symptoms like a bad-tasting and dry mouth — is caused by bacteria (and their gaseous waste products) that live in your mouth, Dr. Jennifer Jablow, DDS, a cosmetic dentist located in New York City, said.

Common causes of bad breath often include dry mouth from medications or anxiety, gum disease, stomach problems such as acid reflux, certain foods, poor hygiene, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, sinus infections, and dental infections, she added.

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Bad breath can also be a symptom of underlying health issues. Dr. Jablow listed examples like tonsillitis, respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbances, or liver and kidney ailments.

Since your body could be using bad breath to signal other health complications, it's always best to see a doctor or dentist over concerns you may have. In many milder cases, Dr. Jablow said it's common for dentists to recommend professional cleanings every three to four months, check for gum or tooth infections, advise on good home care, and suggest gums or candies that promote good saliva flow.

Here's a preview of Dr. Jablow's "good home care" tips for your notes: "Floss daily and use a sonic toothbrush to get rid of all the bacteria that can build up between the teeth and below the gum line. I prefer a water flosser — it's more efficient in getting below the gum line than string floss. A toothpaste with zinc chloride and xylitol also helps kill the stinky sulfur smell at its source, starve the bacteria, and promote saliva flow."

Did you notice that mouthwash didn't make her list? You may be surprised to hear that Dr. Jablow said mouthwashes with alcohol can dry out the mouth, create an acidic environment, and cause bad breath to come back worse because you can lose your natural saliva protection.

With that, my alcohol-based mouthwash is now in the trash, and the Waterpik I just ordered is already en route to my apartment.

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Image Source: Getty / PeopleImages
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