It can spoil more than your social life Bad breath will kill your social life, so it's reasonable that you should figure out what may be causing it. Some causes, like spicy foods, are easy to fix, but others may well point to something more serious. But let's take this step by step. How do you know you've got bad breath? Well, people may be keeping their distance, but may be too polite to tell you the real reason. If you're lucky, someone will be direct, but failing that, you can lick your wrist and smell your saliva - if it stinks, your breath probably does too. Ok, so you've got bad breath. Let's look at the possible causes. Smoking Are you a smoker? Smoking, aside from the many other obvious ways in which it is bad for you, will make your breath smell of stale smoke. It will also irritate your gums and may increase your risk of gum disease, which can also cause bad breath. Solution? Stop smoking. Food Next is food. If you like your garlic and onions raw, you'll just have to choose between this particular passion and decent breath. Alcohol and coffee also affect your breath, but fortunately you can get rid of your bad breath by limiting your intake. Solution? Watch what you eat and drink. Keep in mind that eating infrequently, or dieting can also cause bad breath. This is also the case if you're not eating carbohydrates. There, eat that croissant without guilt - it's good for your breath. Hygiene Of course, if you're casual about keeping your mouth clean, no amount of cutting down on garlic will be of help. The old "I'll brush in the morning" routine doesn't really cut it. Your mouth is full of bacteria which cause plaque, gum disease and dental decay. When the bacteria are mixed with saliva and food trapped between your teeth, a bad odour ensues. The bacteria can also reside on your tongue, which will also impact your bad breath. Solution? Obviously, floss and brush, at least twice a day. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles, and take your time to clean the teeth and scrape the tongue. You can also rinse with anti bacterial mouthwash, though this does not replace brushing your teeth, no matter what your friends tell you. Visit a dentist. Gum disease So, after reading this article you've been diligent and keeping away from the garlic and brushing furiously, but the bad breath persists? Well, you might have gum disease or dental decay. This is something that should immediately be addressed by your dentist. Medical problems Though this is rare, your bad breath could actually indicate a medical condition. For instance, your mouth might not be producing enough saliva, or you could have an infection in your lungs, throat or nose. The bad breath could also indicate you have diabetes, liver or kidney problems, or that you suffer from heart burn. If you've been diligent about your oral cleanliness and the bad breath persists, see your GP. And if you're not quite concerned enough yet, here is something that will make you brush as soon as you're done with this article. Recent studies have confirmed that poor oral hygiene can actually increase your risk of heart attack. This is because poor hygiene can lead to bleeding gums, which provide bacteria with a route into the bloodstream, where they can initiate blood clots leading to heart disease.