9 Weird things that might be causing your stinky breath
The human body is capable of some seriously impressive things. It has ways of keeping us cool when we're too hot, mechanisms to help us see when it's too dark, and a built-in immune system to help us recover when we get sick.
Unfortunately, it also does some pretty gross things. We've got wax and mucus and lord knows what else lurking about in our orifices - not to mention all the bacteria that's lingering on our skin and inside our bodies. For the most part, though, these disgusting things are there to serve a purpose, and are just part of being human.
One of the less enjoyable parts of the human body is its propensity to produce unsavory breath - and here are nine things that may be causing it.
1. Eating a low carb diet
As healthy as it may sound, sticking to a diet which is low in carbohydrates might just lead to some unwanted side effects. More specifically, replacing carbs with fat (a recommendation under the keto or Atkins diet) can cause unpleasant mouth odors.
"If your body is running primarily on fat for energy - instead of carbs - this is when the problem occurs," explains Dr. Harold Katz, a dentist and bacteriologist. "For some people, this is a sign of success because they are expecting to have symptoms of halitosis when trying to lose weight, but this can actually put a lot of stress on your kidneys because there is an excess of ketones."
2. Having sinus infection
It's getting to that time of year when everybody starts to get ill - and one of the symptoms of this might be smelly breath. If you have a sinus infection, mucus from your nose can end up going down your throat and settling on the back of your tongue (gross).
According to Dr. Katz, this is "where anaerobic or ‘bad breath’ bacteria live." When the mucus settles there, it "coats the bacteria and ‘feeds’ it with amino acids, cysteine and methionine (protein building blocks) leading to the rapid onset of halitosis."
3. Being overweight
Carrying a bit of extra weight on your frame can cause a whole host of problems from joint pain to heart problems to potentially fatal conditions. Unfortunately, it causes unsavory breath, too - and it's not hard to guess why.
"Overweight people may be grazing on food over extended periods of time," says Dr. Katz. "The longer teeth are exposed to sugars and other carbohydrates, the more susceptible they become to developing oral issues that can lead to bad breath."
4. Using birth control
So this might seem like a weird one but, considering the number of people worldwide who use birth control, it could be a major cause of bad breath across the planet.
"Oral contraceptives designed to increase estrogen and/or progesterone levels in the body to prevent pregnancy may lead to dry mouth or post-nasal drip, increasing the chances of developing bad breath," says Dr. Katz.
5. Chewing gum
This is probably the most surprising item on the list, as chewing gum is almost always marketed as a product to make your breath less stinky. Of course, the occasional stick of spearmint goodness won't do you any harm, but having too much of the stuff could lead to some undesirable results.
Dr. Katz says: "Sucking mints or chewing gum does serve as a good occasional short-term fix, but if they contain sugar then they may only eventually worsen the situation. Leaving sugar in the mouth for extended periods of time can lead to an accumulation of sticky plaque on the teeth."
6. Not eating enough
We've already learned that eating too much of the wrong foods or not eating enough of the right foods can cause halitosis - but simply avoiding food altogether will also have a detrimental effect on the state of your mouth.
"Whatever your reason for fasting, without regular meals or fluids, the mouth slows its production of saliva," says Dr. Katz. "Without this bacteria-fighting moisture in the mouth, your tongue and palate can start breeding billions of extra bacteria leading to the onset of bad breath."
7. Having dry mouth
This might sound like stating the obvious, but it's not. Dry mouth is the name of a condition which causes a person to have a lack of saliva. This, in turn, allows for a build-up of bacteria: the stuff that causes your stinky mouth.
"There are many reasons dry mouth becomes a problem," Dr. Katz explains. "Sometimes it’s due to age, but it can also be caused by prescription medications, antihistamines, adult beverages, tobacco, coffee, having to do a lot of talking, alcohol-based mouthwash, diet and many other factors."
8. Being diabetic
This is linked to the above point, as people who have problems producing insulin are also likely to develop dry mouth.
“Individuals suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing dry mouth (xerostomia)," Dr Katz confirms. "Abnormal insulin production and/or absorption rates, which occur in diabetes, can cause the salivary glands to not release adequate amounts of saliva and lead to occurrences of dry mouth and bad breath."
9. Being dehydrated
Yes, it had to make the list at some point. Not keeping your body hydrated is probably the most common cause of nasty breath, but is also the easiest to avoid.
"Individuals who get dehydrated generally do not drink much water, but this can help reduce the risk of bad breath because it rinses the mouth of food particles between brushings," says Dr. Katz. "These food particles often linger between teeth and along the gum-line and can be the source of unpleasant aromas."
There you have it, then. If you find yourself suffering from some particularly gross mouth odors, these might offer some insight into what's going on.