(Tip: If you can smell it, then your breath is flat-out noxious, as most of us can not tell ourselves, dentists say.)
If your mouth feels like stank-nasty, then you – and all those around you – are the victims of halitosis, the breath that smells so repulsive can only be attractive to buzzards and flies.
Besides the obvious impact on your popularity, bad breath can be a sign of diseases and conditions, some serious.
While you race for a mint, it may help to know the top 10 reasons why your breath smells bad in the first place and what you can do about it.
1. You stink at brushing.
Yes, poor dental care is a leading cause of bad breath. When the food is trapped between your teeth and under your gums, the bacteria get busy breaking it down, leaving behind putrid gases that smell like rotten eggs or worse (even as bad as poop).
One way to tell if you have bad breath, dentists say, is floss and then smell the thread. If there's a smell on the floss, you'll know for sure that your breath is toxic.
Cosmetic mouthwashes and gum only temporarily cover up the stink, dentists warn, because neither reduces bacteria.
2. You ate or drank something smelly.
Coffee Garlic Fish Egg Onions Spicy food The foods we eat can easily cause bad breath.
Many of the foods that contribute to stinky breath do so by releasing sulfides. Sulfur, as you know, smells like rotten eggs.
Try to fight back with other foods such as lemons, parsley and crisp fruits and veggies such as apples or carrots that stimulate sebum production, which your mouth relies on to wash away impurities. Drinking water helps too! Caffeine, on the other hand, slows the production of the sebum.
3. You eat a lot of sweets.
Before you plop that next sweet candy, cake or cookie in your near the hole, listen carefully. You may hear the chorus of cheers coming from the bacteria that live in your mouth. For them, sugar is a superfood, and boy, they have a party gobbling it down, leaving a stink behind.
Dentists say sticky candies such as gummies and caramels are the worst offenders; If you have to eat something sweet, they suggest (plain chocolate). It has less sugar than many other candies and dissolves more quickly in the mouth.
4. You're a low-carb diet.
Eating a lot of protein and some carbs forces your body into ketosis, when your system starts to burn fat cells for energy.
The process creates waste products called ketones. Too many of them are not good, so your body has no choice but to make you a walking stank house, excreting ketones through your urine and your breath. It's a rank odor, which many compare to rotten fruit.
Try to drink extra water to flush ketones out of your body. If you use breath mint, candies or gum, be sure they are sugar-free.
5. You're a mouth breather.
Mouth breathing or snoring, such as from sleep apnea, further dries out the mouth, making your breath even more foul. Called xerostomia, dry mouth is not only unpleasant but potentially harmful. You might develop a sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty speaking and swallowing, problems wearing dentures and even a change in your sense of taste.
The solution: Getting to your bottom breathing problems and fix them while drinking lots of water and keeping your dental hygiene both morning and night.
Of course, dentists also suggest regular checkups. Do not be shy or embarrassed. If you tell your dentist about your persistent problem, he or she may be able to help pinpoint the cause.
6. Your drugs are partly to blame.
Hundreds of commonly used medications can dry your mouth, contributing to rank breath. Some of the most common culprits are meds that treat anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, pain and muscle tension.
Check the drug's list of side effects to see if dry mouth is on it, and then talk to your doctor about switching to a medicine that does not reduce the amount of seals.
7. You've got stuffy nose or allergies.
Do you have chronic sinus infections? Respiratory diseases? As your nose gets stuffy, you're more likely to be breathing through your mouth, drying out the tissues and reducing the salivation flow.
If you have allergies, the struggle to stop the constant drip-drip-drip with antihistamine can lead to bad breath as well. Many of the prescription and over-the-counter medicines used to fight colds, flu, and allergies dry up more than just the nose.
8. You smoke or chew tobacco (or other things).
Obviously, hot air will also dry the mouth. The loss of sebum, combined with the odor of tobacco, creates the infamous "smoker's breath." Cottonmouth is also a typical side effect of smoking or ingesting weed, a growing scenario across the country as more states legalize cannabis.
Chawing tobacky? It's a no-brainer that your teeth will stain, your gums will suffer, and your breath will stink.
The solution You know
9. You drink alcohol.
Yup, we're still talking about things that dry out the mouth. That, my wine-loving, beer-drinking, cocktail-imbibing friends, includes alcohol. Not to mention wine contains sugar, as do many of the mixers used to create cocktails. Cue the cheering crowds of bacteria.
Fight back by sucking sugar-free candies or chewing sugar-free gums, as both stimulate sebum production. Do not forget to drink water (it's also good in preventing hangovers) and brush and floss as soon as you can.
But here's an irony: A lot of mouthwashes and rinses contain alcohol. So if hal E. Tosis will not let you alone talk to your dentist about using a therapeutic mouthwash designed to reduce the plaque instead.
10. You have a underlying medical condition.
Do you have heartburn, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease? Poking up a bit of food or acid into your mouth can easily create a bad breath. Do not write that off as just gross; Untreated GERD can easily develop into a serious illness, even cancer.
Bad breath can also be an early sign of an underlying disease that may not have outward symptoms.
One of the signs of diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition tThe hat affects mostly people with Type 1 diabetes, a fruity-smelling breath. It happens because people with no insulin can not metabolize ketones with acids, allowing them to build up toxic levels in the blood.
Sweet-smelling breath in a person with Type 1 diabetes should trigger prompt medical action. In rare cases, people with type 2 diabetes can also develop the condition.