Would a cold cause bad breath or is it something else?

I work with a lot of kids and I think one of them shared his cold virus with me a few weeks ago. Ever since then my breath has been terrible. My husband has started making comments about kissing me and it’s embarrassing. So I have been brushing morning and night, and after I eat. I always have a mint and gum in my pocket, but it’s not better yet. Is my bad breath from my cold or is it something else?

Janie, Portland

Dear Janie,

Bad breath, or halitosis, is a tricky thing. Typically your mouth is able to keep an amazing balance of the over 600 bacteria that reside there. They function to break down the foods you eat and keep things clean. When something upsets the balance, it can cause bad breath.

There are several things that could be the cause so it may be difficult to pinpoint which it may be for you.

You mentioned you have had a cold. If you didn’t have any problem before you got sick, it may be that the drainage from your cold is causing the smell. Other medical conditions can also contribute to bad breath, such as GERD or acid reflux. If it is one of these, a doctor may be able to prescribe medicine ┬áto help.

Certain foods may be the culprit. Some, such as garlic and onion, have their smell linger in the mouth for quite some time after they are eaten. Also, when protein is eaten, bacteria will break it down, causing a sulfur smell.

Even the mints you are eating may be making matters worse. Many of them have sugars that bacteria in your mouth feed on. This may contribute to the bad breath, as well as lead to tooth decay and gum disease. If you want to freshen up quickly, sugar-free gum would be a better bet.

While you try to determine what may be causing your bad breath, good oral hygiene is the first place to start to fix it. You are wise to brush after eating and at the beginning and end of the day. Flossing and rinsing with a mouth rinse, especially one designed specifically for bad breath, would be a good addition to your daily regiment. This will help get rid of any hiding food particles that bacteria is working to break down, possibly causing the smell.

If your bad breath continues, mention it to your dentist at your next appointment. He may be able to help you determine the cause.

This post is sponsored by Dr. Perry at Baton Rouge Family Dentist.

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