There are times when you regret eating that garlic bread for a lunch meeting, wondering if everyone can smell the garlic from a mile away. Well, you might actually be right to worry. As it turns out, bad luck and bad breath do not discriminate. Bad breath or Halitosis, as it is known medically, is a very common ailment, about one in four people are said to suffer from it (1).
Often, people suffering from bad breath are not aware of it. This only adds to the problem, not only are they socially stigmatized, but they also fail to identify the deeper underlying causes of the smell that they hold in their breath. Bad breath can be the body’s way of telling us that there is something wrong with it. Let us see what that can be.
1. A Bacterial Imbalance In The Mouth
Talking about bad breath, it makes sense to start with the neighborhood. Since the problem originates in the mouth, it is quite possible that it has something to do with the environment of the mouth. The human mouth is home to hundreds of different strains of bacteria, these strains of bacteria are often harmless and aid in the digestion of our food (2). While that is a good thing, the presence of too much of anaerobic bacteria, that is bacteria which does need oxygen to survive, results in bad breath.
2. Poor Dental Hygiene
A poor dental hygiene regime can also contribute to bad breath. Our teeth are covered with a layer of a colorless, adhesive film of bacteria called plaque. If the teeth are not brushed regularly or properly it can lead to a build up of plaque, often resulting in filled pockets in between teeth and gums. Food particles that remain stuck, dentures that are not cleaned properly, all these contribute to the production of bacteria in the mouth, which then leads to bad breath.
3. The Diet You Have Been Following
Yes, you read that right, the contents of your diet might be the real culprit behind that foul odor emanating from your mouth. It could be that you have an impeccable dental regime, but that latest diet fad that you are following might be causing some serious case of “hunger breath” or “ Ketosis-breath’ (3). It so happens that when you are dieting, your body is deprived of glucose and so, it moves to a secondary source to meet its energy requirements. This secondary source is the fat that is already stored in our body. However, the process of fat breakdown produces a chemical compound called ketone. It is these ketones that are ruining your breath, and frankly your day.
4. Too Much Sugar
It’s not only how you eat but also what you eat that makes a difference in the way your mouth smells. If you are fond of eating sugar-rich foods, you might be inviting trouble. Sugar acts as a source of food for the bacteria, so naturally eating food rich in sugar leads to a pile-up of smell-causing bacteria in the mouth (4).
5. Smoking And Alcohol Can Also Be Contributors
While smoking cigarettes or cigars itself produces smell, not everyone who drinks or smokes suffers from Halitosis. Though, smoking and alcohol consumption can make the problem worse for someone who is already suffering from it. Smoking is a major cause behind gum diseases and other oral disorders.
6. A Case Of Too Much Coffee
It’s true that nothing gets you started in the days as well, as a good cuppa joe, but it can also be what is making your mouth reek. Coffee and all the other substances containing caffeine can make your mouth dry, making it a perfect place for the smelly anaerobic bacteria to grow and thrive.
7. It Could Be Diabetes
A fruity odor in your breath can be a sign of diabetes (5). A person suffering from diabetes is more likely to suffer from gum diseases, also his body does not have sufficient insulin. In the absence of insulin, the body stops receiving energy from glucose, instead, it produces energy from the fat which leads to the production of ketones.
And we all thought that bad breath was just a deal breaker while kissing. Bad breath can reveal a lot more than you just your oral hygiene. So, the next time you think your breath smells a little off, maybe you should try analyzing your lifestyle and your health.
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