Does bad breath mean bad brushing?

It’s a common misconception that when someone has bad breath, it means that they don’t brush their teeth. Though this is a possibility, there are other things that could be going on.

Mint is a common ingredient in toothpaste because it freshens breath and we find it a pleasant scent. Mint is also usually associated with freshness and cleanliness. We use toothbrushing, mouthwash, mints and gum all as breath fresheners. We want the people around us to want to continue to be around us. If our breath is smelly, they may want to vacate the area.

Woman covering her mouth because bad breath isolated on a white background

Bad breath, which is also known as halitosis, is caused by a build-up of germs in the mouth. The germs build up in between teeth, as plaque on teeth, from food particles and on the tongue. As well, bad breath can be caused simply by what foods we eat. As food is digested and broken down in the body, it enters the bloodstream, eventually entering the lungs. The breath is then exhaled, smelling of the food we’ve eaten. The smell will remain until the food is completely digested. Good oral hygiene will often solve the problem of halitosis. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss and possibly use mouthwash.

If your halitosis persists, it may be a sign of another issue. If you find yourself using breath fresheners more than a few times a day or if your bad breath comes back quickly after brushing, there may be an underlying cause.

Though rare, some diseases do cause bad breath. Here are a few to look out for:

  • Dry mouth: Bad breath can be caused by dry mouth because of the dehydration of the mouth. Saliva is a cleansing agent. Without saliva, the mouth often grows more bacteria. This is also why we often have bad breath in the morning.
  • Foods or medicines: As well know, some foods, such as garlic, leave a distinct smell on your breath. Some medicines can also cause the breath to smell a certain way.
  • Smoking: This causes breath to smell like cigarettes.
  • Crash dieting or fasting: This can cause bad breath because the body releases ketones which are released during the breakdown of fat. Ketones will smell sweet on the breath.
  • Other diseases: Infections in the lungs, throat or nose can sometimes cause bad breath. Liver and kidney problems can also cause bad breath. These diseases often come with more obvious symptoms. If your only symptom is bad breath, you probably just need to brush your teeth.
  • Gum disease: Persistent bad breath may be a sign of gum disease. Gum disease is often caused by continuous build-up of plaque and tartar around the teeth.
  • Too much trimethylaminuria: this is most commonly associated with breath that smells like bad fish. This disease is when the body cannot properly break down the trimethylaminuria and it is therefore released through sweat, breath and urine. This is a very rare disease.
  • Yeast infection in the mouth
  • Acid reflux

One problem with recognizing bad breath or halitosis as a symptom is that the person with bad breath is often the last to know. We get used to the smell and taste of our own mouth. Most people are too shy to mention that someone else’s breath smells. If you think you might have bad breath, try asking a family member or close friend who will be honest with you. Alternatively, your dentist will be able to tell you if you have bad breath.

If you have any concerns about bad breath or halitosis, be sure to ask you favorite Fort Worth dentist for more information.

Fun fact: The fear of having bad breath is known is halitophobia.

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two cute kids brushing their teeth over white background