What causes bad breath?

Americans spend $1 billion a year on mouthwash!

But what really causes bad breath, also called halitosis?

The tongue is the cause of bad breath in 90% of cases!  There are a large amount of bacteria on the tongue, especially on the back of the tongue.  The bacteria break down food products, and release sulfur compounds which can smell like rotten eggs.

The gum crevices next to the teeth also harbor a large number of bacteria which can contribute to bad breath.

We all know that certain foods can worsen breath, such as onion, garlic, and cabbage. Smoking also causes bad breath.

In rare cases, bad breath can be a sign of a significant health problem.  Liver failure can cause severe halitosis, as can kidney failure.  Sinus infections or severe reflux (heartburn) can cause bad breath.  Diabetic patients can have breath that smells fruity and sweet.

To get rid of bad breath, removing the bacteria with brushing and a tongue scraper can help.  While mouthwash can mask the smell and remove some bacteria, using mouthwash that contains alcohol can actually cause breath to worsen over time as the alcohol can dry out the mouth.


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