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Why Your Bad Breath May Be More Serious Than You Think

Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath,  can be a major turn off and can even cause lower self-esteem because it makes you conscious of how close you get to people and how you interact in your social life. Since dealing with it means you need to address the root cause for lasting results, finding out the underlying cause of your bad breath is paramount. It is also important to note that bad breath has been identified as an underlying symptom of other more serious diseases, which, left untreated go far beyond the embarrassment and discomfort of having a bad taste in the mouth.

Below we look at some of the more common causes and implications of bad breath and also how to treat it, not just to mask the symptoms but to remove the underlying cause as well.


Bacteria is one of the most common causes of bad breath. Bacteria mainly hide in the grooves around the surface of the tongue, in between the teeth and the surface of teeth as well. It is this bacterium that leads to the development of plaque on teeth. The bacteria produce volatile organic compounds that are responsible for bad breath. Bacteria are also known for being notorious causes of gum disease. Therefore, foul breath can potentially signal the presence of gum disease, which can be treated by preventive dentistry before it becomes a major concern.


People who are on intensive weight loss diets very often experience a bad taste in the mouth. Many diets promising fast weight loss severely limit the intake of carbohydrates to minimise daily calorie intake for fast and effective results. This reduced carbohydrate promotes much higher fat-burning within the body, and sends the body into a state known as ‘ketosis. This produces much higher levels of chemicals known as ‘ketones’ to be released and it is these chemicals which are responsible for the classic bad breath often experienced by intense dieters. Coupled with other side effects, including fewer visits to the bathroom, a low carbohydrate intake has been advanced as a major cause of bad breath. This form of halitosis does not mean you are necessarily suffering from anything wrong with your mouth or gums, rather it may be viewed as the body’s signal that it is unhappy to be on such an unbalanced diet. This article explains the link between your diet and your bad breath in more detail: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/low-carb-diets-can-cause-bad-breath.

Food Choices

The food we eat gets absorbed into the blood stream. Food that has been cooked in pungent herbs or spices can subsequently result in bad breath. We’ve all experienced the after effects of eating too much garlic or too much chilli! Once in the blood stream your bad breath will persist until all the food is has been fully digested and all traces of it have gone from your blood stream. This bad smell mainly comes from the lungs where blood is filtered. Eating foods such as parsley can help neutralise the blood and minimise the effects of these spices on your breath.

Dry mouth

When we sleep the saliva glands in the mouth stop producing saliva, causing drying of the mouth. A dry mouth is the main cause of foul breath in the morning when we wake up. This can also be accompanied by a bad taste in mouth. This dry mouth can also be caused by dehydration, and is the reason why you wake up with a dry mouth and a bad taste in the mouth after drinking too much alcohol. A dry mouth can also be a side effect of treatments for other diseases, for example, radiation for cancer treatment.

Remedies for Bad Breath

When faced with horrible tasting breath, most peoples’ instinct is to reach for the mouthwash. However, mouthwash only masks the symptoms of halitosis, it does not deal with the actual root cause. The alcohol in mouthwash kills both the ‘bad’ and the ‘good’ bacteria in the mouth. This may mask the symptoms of bad breath temporarily, mouthwash doesn’t however go any way to treating the underlying causes of the problem. Mouthwash is  therefore an ineffective way of dealing with the causes of bad breath.

Bad breath may seem like a relatively minor side-condition, which doesn’t need to be taken seriously and is relatively easy to deal with. However, it is important to realise that bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth can be symptoms of much more serious underlying infections. These infections may be chronic or low-grade and as such are ignored or not picked up until the symptoms have advanced into relatively advanced stages of gum disease. Because the symptoms may appear to be non-serious, and because the infections are very often undetected because they don’t cause a great deal of pain in the beginning, gum disease may remain undetected for quite a while. This is where the danger lies as, if caught in the early stages, gum disease is relatively easy to reverse. However, in advanced stages, it cause sever bone loss and the effects are irreversible.

Even more seriously, left untreated, gum disease has been found to be lead to other much more serious conditions such heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, poor pregnancy outcomes, even erectile dysfunction in young men. Preventive dentistry provides fast detection of the underlying causes of halitosis, or foul breath, making permanent treatment and a successful outcome much more likely.

Dr Galgut specialises in preventative dentistry and gum disease treatment at his practice in North London. If you want to know more about how to prevent gum disease or wish to discuss gum disease treatment options, please contact him here: https://periodontal.co.uk/new-contact/

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