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Understanding the Causes

Mouth odors afflict a large proportion of people, even those with the healthiest of teeth can suffer from this issue. Rotten or decayed teeth can cause particularly bad breath because of the presence of certain anaerobic bacteria. When exposed to certain foods, these bacteria rapidly create volatile sulfur compounds better known as VSCs and, as a result, an unpleasant smell becomes present.r

The bacteria in the mouth and stomach that cause bad breath thrive best in the presence of drying agents, sugars, alcohol, acids and high protein foods. Mouth odors can particularly be worsened by the drinking of alcohol. Wine, beer and spirits cause dehydration within the body and especially in the mouth, which results in ideal conditions for bacteria to create their foul smells.

Foods high in sugar provide a food source for the bacteria with which to produce VSCs. Certain sugars are also converted by the bacteria into glycan strands, which cause plaque to adhere to teeth. Commonly, sugary mints are used to try and mask mouth odors, but in truth the sugar within them can cause the problem to worsen. The same can be true of sugary chewing gums, which although they may produce more saliva and moisten the mouth, also feed the bacteria.

The pH inside a person’s mouth can have a decided effect on the mouth odors caused by bacteria. If the pH is especially acidic it actually promotes the growth and development of the bad breath, causing bacteria. The natural pH is around 6.5, but the consumption of acidic foods like oranges, coffee and tomatoes can increase the acidity. Water at a pH of 7 is always a good thing to drink to stabilize the mouth’s pH.

When high protein foods are digested, such as red meat or dairy products, certain digestive problems can cause mouth odors. Lactose intolerant people in particular cannot break down dairy products and as a result excess VSCs are produced. This is the case with a variety of dense proteins including beans, chicken and fish.

Take Action to Prevent
Preventable mouth odors are a result of good oral hygiene. Visit your dentist for questions and concerns about mouth odor that you feel is out of your control.  There may be other factors contributing and your dental provider can help identify and resolve.