Bacteria can come in both good and bad forms—and it is found everywhere in our bodies, including our mouths. So, what is its purpose? Our mouths contain specific types of bacteria to help us break down the foods we eat. However, in turn, the foods we eat also affect the number of bacteria in our mouths. This isn’t the same type of bacteria mentioned earlier, though. When we eat foods that are highly acidic, this causes our mouths to become more acidic and harmful bacteria to grow. This bacterial imbalance is one of the leading causes of bad breath.
What causes oral acidity?
Before knowing what causes oral acidity, it is essential to understand that oral acidity means the mouth’s pH level is low, which makes the mouth acidic. However, most oral experts agree that oral pH should be as close to neutral as possible. This is because anaerobic bacteria, which cause bad breath, have better conditions to grow when the mouth is too acidic. Anaerobic bacteria prefer less oxygen and reproduce by feeding on iron in blood and tissue. As mentioned earlier, high levels of acid in the mouth is most commonly caused by eating acidic foods, which then lead to a bacterial imbalance.
Acidic foods are usually foods that have been processed, such as dairy, grains, and sugar. However, meats and most citrus fruits are also highly acidic. Essentially, digesting more acid makes your mouth more acidic.
Eating too many acidic foods is not the only cause of oral bacterial imbalance, however. Other contributing causes of oral acidity include:
- Gum disease. Gum disease occurs when bone under the gums and teeth has decayed. The gap caused by the bone loss gives harmful bacteria an excellent space to spawn.
- Your nasal cavity connects directly with your oral passage, and an excess of mucous can easily drip into your mouth. Since mucus is rich in protein, the amino acids can break down once they reach the mouth and cause it to become more acidic.
- Dry mouth. When your mouth gets dry, there is not enough oxygen to keep anaerobic bacteria from growing. Therefore, oral acidity increases as anaerobic bacteria increase.
So, what does this mean for bad breath?
Different types of bacteria have different odors, but they all have one thing in common. Simply put, anaerobic bacteria stinks. The smell is caused when the bacteria releases waste after breaking down mouth tissue and taking iron from the blood. Regardless of the cause of your oral acidity, you can always prevent bad breath by staying hydrated, eating less acidic foods, paying regular visits to your dentist and oral hygienist, and keeping up with your oral hygiene by using products such as alkaline mouthwash.