Everybody has occasional bad breath. Maybe you just ate liver and onions. Maybe you’re waking up after a bad bender and your mouth tastes and smells terrible. Maybe it’s something that just happens to you in the morning sometimes.

But if you have frequent, recurring, or constant bad breath, you need to pay attention to it. Bad breath can be a sign of major health problems.

How Bacteria Cause Bad Breath

There are two types of bacteria found in your mouth. Aerobic bacteria breathe oxygen just like we do, and when they eat they can create acid, carbon dioxide, and water. They can be bad for your teeth and gums, but they don’t smell bad.

The other type of bacteria don’t breathe oxygen. They’re called anaerobic bacteria, and they often use sulfur to digest their food. In the process, they make lots of smelly gases that then come out of your mouth as bad breath.

And it’s not just that anaerobic bacteria don’t breathe oxygen, it’s toxic to them, so they like to hide in places where oxygen can’t get them. For some people, this may just mean the back of your tongue, where folds of muscle can create oxygen-free sanctuaries, but for other people, more serious problems may be to blame.

If you’re not flossing, anaerobic bacteria will find sheltered places between your teeth. When tartar builds up along your gums, it creates a shelter where they can move into your gums and be protected. The inside of your teeth and gums also make an ideal place for anaerobic bacteria to colonize.

That’s why persistent bad breath may be a sign of developing gum disease or an infected tooth that needs a root canal.

A Little Bit You, a Little Bit Genes

Part of the reason why anaerobic bacteria are building up in your mouth is that you’re not doing a good job with oral hygiene. If you’re not flossing, or if you’re not making visits to the dentist for hygiene and checkups, then you may be causing your bad breath. Make a trip to the dentist and get updated hygiene instructions. And don’t be surprised if you need to make a visit to the periodontist for a serious problem.

But for other people, bad breath is just bad luck. Our genes influence the bacteria we have in our mouths, and they can determine whether we have bad breath or not. It’s possible to control bad breath in this case, but it may take a lot more work than it does for most people.

If you are tired of living with bad breath, call (310) 275-5325 for an appointment in Beverly Hills.