We can be certain we’ll have bad breath some time but do you know the causes of bad breath? You are familiar with the joys of bad breath- wake up with nasty morning breath, or have the stinky breath that’s a result of eating too much garlic or onions, or have family members step back a pace when we go to give them a kiss.
Let’s take a look at what’s really going on that makes your mouth smell like something the dog dug up.
Top Causes of Bad Breath
There is actually just one great big cause of bad breath, and I talk about that in the next section. However, there are things that we do that help make our bad breath worse. This is the list, and I go into more detail on each of these below.
- Coated Tongue
- Dry Mouth
- High Protein Diets
- Some Halitosis Prevention Products
- Lack of Good Daily Care
Let’s start with the Godfather of the bad breath family.
Anaerobic Bacteria Cause Bad Breath
Our mouths are teaming with bacteria, bacteria that are supposed to be there, all of them breaking down and digesting food and doing other necessary things.
The bacterium that causes bad breath is known as anaerobic bacteria. These are bacteria that thrive in areas without oxygen, especially under the surface of the tongue and at the back of the throat.
These guys specialize in breaking down and digesting proteins. Proteins are made up of amino acids, two of which are Cysteine and Methionine, which are high in sulfur. As the anaerobic bacteria digest proteins, the resulting waste products have a bad sulfurous smell. Welcome to the world of bad breath!
Volatile Sulfur Compounds Make Your Breath Bad – Really Bad
The waste products created by anaerobic bacteria are known as Volatile Sulfur Compounds or VSC. Volatility means that the VSC are easily carried away on a breath, out to where other people can detect them. The two compounds that smell like sulfur are:
- Hydrogen Sulfide
- Methyl Mercaptan
Unfortunately, there are other waste products that add to smelly breath:
- Cadaverine – this is the smell of decaying bodies.
- Putrescine – this compound causes much of the odor of decaying meat.
- Skatole – this compound smells similar to human feces.
- Isovaleric Acid – this compound smells similar to sweaty feet.
No one is immune. Even babies can have bad breath. You may be wondering if everyone has these bacteria and not everyone has bad breath, what is causing bad breath for some?
How To Create More Bad Breath Bacteria
There are several things that lead to more anaerobic bacteria and/or more of their waste products being created.
The surface of our tongue is covered with papillae which are tipped with taste buds. Anaerobic bacteria can be found in between these papillae. If you tongue is coated – go look in the mirror – that will cut down on the oxygen getting between the papillae. Even a coating as thin as 0.1 or 0.2 millimeters is thick enough to keep out the oxygen. This is also the case with plaque on your teeth. A very thin coat of plaque will keep oxygen from reaching areas around the gums and between your teeth, creating more places for anaerobic bacteria.
Keep Your Mouth Oxygenated
Saliva helps keep your mouth oxygenated. Dehydration will reduce the levels of oxygen, so drinking more water and less coffee and alcohol will help fight chronic halitosis. Smoking will dehydrate the mouth, so not all of smokers breath comes from just the smell of tobacco. Certain medications also are dehydrating.
Bad Breath and Diets
High protein diets increase the amount of protein that can be converted to VSC’s. This is one of the reasons people who are on the Atkins Diet or on high protein, low carb diets often have bad breath. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need protein in your diet. It just means you need to balance it out with other good foods and you need good oral hygiene habits. Sinus and allergy conditions that cause post nasal drip will also add protein-rich mucus to the back of the tongue and throat.
Bad Breath Products Can Cause Bad Breath
Even standard dental products can help cause bad breath rather than be the bad breath remedies that we hope they will be. Many mouthwashes contain alcohol, which is dehydrating. Even toothpaste is not without it’s problems. The majority of popular toothpastes contain sodium lauryl sulfate, the detergent in shampoo and soaps that makes them and your toothpaste bubble and foam. This detergent does nothing to eliminate anaerobic bacteria and can be damaging to the lining of your mouth. There is a product line that has none of these harmful ingredients. You can read about TheraBreath here in our Review.
Getting Rid of the Biggest Causes of Bad Breath – Bacteria
To keep your population of anaerobic bacteria at bay, you need to have a daily routine of flossing, brushing, tongue cleaning and drinking water. Check the articles on our website for more information on the best way to do these. Make these four things a habit, and you’ll find that your breath improves.
There you have it. The primary cause of bad breath for the average person is the anaerobic bacteria that live in your mouth. Most people associate a coated tongue with bad breath, and they would be right. It’s not the coating but what it covers that matters.