Top Health Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Breath

With recent mask wearing we have all become aware that every breath we take tends to create a less than fresh aroma. “Mask breath” is usually due to common situations like dehydration or your last meal or beverage. For most, eliminating aromatic foods and beverages like onions, garlic, fish, eggs and coffee, and practicing diligent oral hygiene and preventive dental care solves the problem. If your breath still smells less than fresh, before popping a mint to camouflage it, consider these health issues that may be the underlying cause.

When to Visit the Dental Clinic

Typically, the cause of less than desirable breath can be identified by a trip to the family dental clinic. We encourage patients to schedule a dental appointment to see if gum disease or an infection is to blame. Dr. Kirakosian is committed to ensuring each patient has the most comfortable dental experience possible, so no need to worry about a painful exam or treatments.

What We Look For

We look for any cuts or injuries that may have become infected within the mouth and check to see if bacteria are growing along the gum line. This can occur due to oral surgery or tooth extractions, gum disease, tooth decay or mouth sores. Bacteria in either case can produce a metallic smell associated with infection and inflammation. Bacteria along the gums is known as periodontitis or gum disease. If you have a family member with gum disease, smoke or neglect regular brushing and flossing, this could be the problem. We may prescribe antibiotics to treat infections and recommend salt water rinses two to three times daily until it clears up. Should we not find either of these conditions and bad breath is still a problem, we recommend you see your doctor to get checked out to rule out the following potential culprits.

Your Respiratory System

While usually your respiratory system is hard at work oxygenating your body, that isn’t always the case. If you snore, wake up with morning breath, or are a mouth breather, this can dry out your mouth, cause an increase in bacteria and an unpleasant odor.

When your breath “takes your breath away”, it needs your prompt attention. If you continuously wake up exhausted, or a loved one has told you that you stop breathing when you sleep, it could be sleep apnea. We can provide a custom night guard called a snore guard for milder snoring, or recommend you see a doctor to get a sleep study to determine the severity.

Mucus due to allergies, the common cold, and chronic sinus, nasal or throat infections or inflammation can also adversely affect your breath. Treat these conditions to control post nasal drip and the breath issue should quickly resolve.

Another reason for bad breath could be food trapped in the folds of your tonsils. This creates tonsil stones, a form of tonsillitis called cryptic tonsillitis. If brushing or removing the stones with a cotton swab fails, a tonsillectomy may be in order to clear up this breath issue.

Your Gastrointestinal System

Acid reflux and H. Pylori in the stomach both contribute to bad breath. GERD, short for gastroesophageal reflux disease, causes stomach acid and bits of food to enter the esophagus, producing sour smelling breath, potentially harming the throat and mouth. Left untreated, it may cause esophageal cancer. If you experience heartburn, indigestion, nausea and stomach aches, your doctor may test for H. Pylori. If found, antibiotics are prescribed to alleviate your symptoms and stop these bacteria from causing an ulcer or stomach cancer.

Supplements and Medication

People who take too many supplemental vitamins or are on certain medications may experience bad breath due to their drying effect on the mouth. In particular, when chemotherapy, nitrate, and sleep medicines break down in the body, the chemicals released cause bad breath as well.

Your Endocrine System 

Should your body burn fat for fuel in place of sugar, which occurs with diabetes, breath takes on a fruity aroma. While not unpleasant, this is an indicator that your insulin level is low and needs prompt attention.

Organ Failure

Another sweet smell with a moldy tang could signal the presence of advanced liver failure. This is typically accompanied by jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes due to excess bilirubin. Fishy breath may be observed in someone in end-stage renal disease as the kidneys fail to properly eliminate waste. Organ transplants are indicated for both conditions.

Diet and Breath

Metabolic disorders and dieting can also contribute to bad breath. Low carb and keto diets can trigger a phenomenon called ketosis, which involves nitrogen waste. Commonly referred to as “keto breath” it is characterized by a metallic, fruity and strong odor.

Additional Causes

If you notice your child has persistent bad breath and you have overseen their daily oral hygiene, it could be due to food or something else in their nose.

Come visit New Look Dental for all your dental care needs! We are a Glendale area dentist committed to educating and providing caring family dentistry for local families to keep our community healthy, safe and smelling fresh!