Most of the time we know what causes our bad breath and how to fix it. Maybe the extra garlic in that pasta sauce at lunch wasn’t such a good idea, but a decent stick of gum can easily erase that decision before your afternoon corporate meeting. Our mouths are naturally full of bacteria that, if left to proliferate, cause tartar build-up, plaque, and gum disease. And, of course, loads of bacteria don’t smell very good if they aren’t routinely brushed or swished away. Most people maintain good dental habits that keep their breath smelling fresh with a morning and evening brushing and flossing routine. Many men and women even choose to brush and floss after each meal. All of these types of interventions can easily cut down on bad breath caused by food, drink, or tobacco.
However, there are a few rare causes of bad breath that can be downright dangerous. Some forms of bad breath may signal an inherent or important medical problem that should be addressed by your doctor. In some patients, lack of saliva production can lead to halitosis. Slow saliva production may indicate a tumor in your glands or a metabolic condition that inhibits this natural lubricant. Infections of the lungs, throat and nose can also manifest as bad breath and may be treated by a simple course of antibiotics. The sinus cavities in your face are large spaces that breed bacteria. Overproduction of bacteria in these areas may lead to bad breath. Dental abscesses can get infected and cause bad breath as well.
A few serious causes of bad breath include diabetes, liver problems, or errors in kidney function. The liver and kidneys are important organs that should be monitored by your doctor if you suspect any problems. There are several simple blood tests that he or she can run to determine if your liver and kidneys are performing the way they should. Identifying and averting a problem with these organs is best if done early and can often be reversible.
Keep tabs on your oral hygiene habits and your bad breath. If you notice your breath suddenly becoming worse for no apparent reason, it may be time to contact your dentist or doctor to have them look into it.