Bad Breath or Bad Health - PIH Health

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Published on July 20, 2015

Bad Breath or Bad Health

Woman with bad breathe

Woman with bad breatheHave you ever done a quick “breath check” and realized the scent was less than flattering? Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is often caused by a buildup of bacteria, which can happen when there is a decrease of saliva.

Most noticeable instances of bad breath:

  • Are in the morning since saliva flow stops during sleep
  • When you are hungry because chewing food increases saliva
  • When you are dehydrated or have consumed alcoholic beverages
  • After taking certain medications

Tips to help eliminate bad breath:

  • Brush and floss daily – If you don’t, food stays in your mouth and collects bacteria causing bad breath
  • Quit smoking – One of the many benefits of quitting is better breath
  • Drink lots of water – This will keep your mouth moist and help you stay hydrated
  • Watch what you eat – A balanced diet not only has great health benefits, but also helps keep your breath fresh
  • Chew gum – Sugar-free gum or mints help keep breath fresh and help produce saliva

Is it more than just bad breath?

“Other causes of bad breath may be hinting at something more severe than not flossing,” said Laura Coulson MD, a PIH Health Family Medicine physician. If you have tried the steps above and bad breath seems to linger, then a trip to your dentist may be in order. The dentist will most likely refer you to a physician, who can check for more serious conditions linked to bad breath.

Problems in other areas of the body that can cause bad breath include:

  • Diabetes – a symptom of very high-blood sugar is a strong, fruity breath odor
  • Reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Throat or mouth infections such as strep throat
  • Gum disease (periodontal disease), which may cause a metallic breath odor
  • Lung problems, such as infection or cancer
  • Heart failure

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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