If you have ever got that not-so-fresh feeling, you are not alone. Bad breath, also called Halitosis, is a very common condition that can be due to a number of reasons.

Common causes: 

Bad breath results from poor oral health in most cases. But, it might be a sign of an underlying medical condition in some cases.

1) Poor oral hygiene- This is the reason for the maximum cases of bad breath. When one eats, bacteria feed on the food left in the mouth leaving a layer called 'plaque'. If we don't brush and floss daily, this plaque can irritate our gums and form deep pockets, which can further harbor food, leading to bad breath. If the tongue is not cleaned, it can also cause bad breath. If one wears dentures, they can also lead to bad breath, if not cleaned properly. 

2) Type of food- Certain food items with strong odors like onion, garlic, and spices.

3) Dry mouth- Saliva helps in cleansing of mouth, by washing out all the food remnants. When saliva production is less, this natural cleansing action doesn't happen, leading to bad breath. Decreased saliva production can happen in salivary gland diseases, during sleep, in mouth breathers, or due to certain medications also. 

4) Gum disease- In cases of advanced gum disease ( known as 'pyorrhoea'), bad breath is very common. This is due to the plaque and tartar deposits that further harbor food remnants, leading to bad breath. This becomes like a vicious circle. 

5) Smoking and tobacco chewing- Smoking stains your teeth, leads to bad breath and can lead to health problems. Tobacco users are more likely to suffer from gum disease, which further leads to bad breath.

6) Medical conditions-  In most cases of bad breath, the cause is oral. But, once your dentist has ruled out all oral causes, you will be referred to your physician to look for any underlying medical condition that is causing bad breath. These can be Diabetes, gastric reflux, liver, or kidney disease.

Bad breath can be reduced or prevented by the following:

1) Brush and Floss- Brush your teeth twice-a-day and floss once-a-day to completely remove all food particles and plaque.

2) Clean your tongue- If you notice a brown or white coating on the back surface of the tongue, it indicates improper cleaning of the tongue. Use a toothbrush or tongue scraper to clean your tongue.

3) Mouthwash- Over the counter antibacterial mouthwashes can help kill bacteria and temporarily mask bad breath. Use it in addition to brushing, flossing, and tongue cleaning for maximum benefit.

4) Clean your dentures- If you use removable dentures, do clean them thoroughly every night.

5) Drink lots of water and fluids to keep your oral cavity hydrated and moist. Also, consume lots of salad and fruits, which can help in the natural cleansing of your oral cavity 

6) Quit smoking- Giving up smoking or tobacco in any other form will benefit your general as well as your oral health. 

Bad breath can be embarrassing and can affect one's self-esteem and confidence. Getting rid of bad breath can positively impact one's personal and professional life and is usually relatively easy to achieve 

Don't let bad breath affect your quality of life! Time to act!