Dehydration is the leading cause of bad breath other than poor dental hygiene, according to the Mayo Clinic. Not drinking enough water means food (and the bacteria that feed on it) hangs out in your mouth longer, breeding and heightening the stench. Fortunately the fix is as simple as the problem: Drink up! Plain H2O is best, but doctors add that sugar-free gum or candies can also help stimulate saliva flow.

  • You have a serious illness

Bad breath may smell equally stinky to our untrained noses but according to researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder, not all bad breath is created equally—and the presence of certain, ahem, gasses in your mouth can indicate disease. For instance, excess methylamine may signal liver and kidney disease, ammonia may be a sign of renal failure, elevated acetone levels can indicate diabetes, and nitric oxide levels can be used to diagnose asthma, according to the scientists. A separate study found that a certain mix of bad breath gasses can even indicate malignant throat cancer. You can’t tell just from a sniff test but if you have chronic bad breath it might be worth getting a more sensitive test done in your doctor’s office.

You can now add bad breath to the list of health problems caused by being overweight, according to a study from Tel Aviv University. The researchers found that the more overweight a person is, the more likely their breath will smell unpleasant to others. They’re still investigating why this is the case. It may have to do with biological dysfunction or it may be another example of the social stigma endured by the obese.

  • You are at risk for heart disease

Gum disease and heart disease are closely linked, with gingivitis being an early warning sign of cardiovascular problems, according to a study done by the International & American Association for Dental Research. And one of the major signs of gum disease is bad breath. Treat your gum disease and not only do you ditch the noxious mouth fumes but you also improve your heart health.

One of the hallmarks of sore-throat disease is persistent bad breath. The same bacteria that give you bad breath are the ones that also infect your tonsils, giving you recurrent sore throats. Tonsillectomy, a surgery that removes the two glands in the back of your throat, can help treat the sickness and bad breath, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

  • You are at risk for pre-term delivey

Pregnant women need to pay particular attention to bad breath, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Women with gum disease—often signified by halitosis—are more likely to have premature or low birth weight babies. This is why it’s so important to stay on top of your dental hygiene and checkups when you’re expecting, the group says.

.: Reader’s Digest

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