Bad breath is an embarrassing but common dental problem that most of us have suffered from at one time or another. If you are suffering from bad breath, remember that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, focus on identifying what may be causing your bad breath, and what you can do to beat bad breath for good.
There are many effective home remedies and over-the-counter treatments for bad breath. However, if these strategies prove ineffective, you will need to consult your dentist, who can help identify underlying problems and develop a treatment plan.
Causes of Bad Breath
Bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by a number of different factors. Many causes of bad breath are harmless, but bad breath can sometimes be a sign of underlying dental or health problems. It’s therefore important to identify and address what’s causing your bad breath.
Saliva functions to continuously clean the mouth, ridding it of odor-causing bacteria, dead cells, and partially digested food. If your mouth is dry due to insufficient saliva levels, this cleaning function is lost and bad breath often results.
Many common medications cause dry mouth as a side effect. Dry mouth can also be brought on by salivary gland problems or breathing through your mouth too much.
Medical conditions that cause increased mucus production or a post nasal drip are common causes of bad breath. Respiratory infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis and sinus infections are common culprits here.
Other conditions such as a chronic acid reflux, diabetes, and liver or kidney problems may also cause bad breath. If you have any of these conditions, give your doctor a call to ensure that your bad breath isn’t a warning sign of illness.
Dental caries, or tooth decay, is a common cause of bad breath. Decaying teeth are infected with odor-causing bacteria, which can result in bad breath. If you have other symptoms of tooth decay, such as pain or increased tooth sensitivity, it is advisable to consult your dentist.
Foods and Beverages
Many kinds of food and beverages can cause bad breath. Common culprits include garlic, onions, spicy food, coffee, alcoholic beverages and tuna and other fish. Reducing consumption of these foods and drinks can help prevent bad breath.
Brushing, flossing and using mouthwash after consuming odor-causing foods and drinks can help to mask resultant bad breath. However, bad breath may continue to pop up until these items are fully digested.
Hundreds of species of bacteria inhabit your mouth, many of which can cause bad breath. When you eat, bacteria feed on leftover food, and leave foul-smelling metabolic byproducts that cause bad breath.
Smoking and Tobacco Use
Smoking and tobacco use are common causes of bad breath, not to mention major risk factors for more serious conditions such as gum disease and oral cancer. Quitting can significantly improve bad breath, and improve your overall health.
Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth are common symptoms of advanced gum disease, which is caused by excessive plaque buildup. If your bad breath persists despite improved dental hygiene and avoidance of foods and drinks that cause bad breath, it may be time to consult your dentist.
How to Get Rid of Bad Breath
If you are suffering from bad breath, don’t despair. There are many in-home treatments that could alleviate your bad breath, and your dentist can also help.
Practice Good Dental Hygiene
Brush your teeth twice daily and floss once daily to get rid of odor-causing bacteria. It may also be helpful to brush after meals or consumption of high-sugar snacks.
Mouthwashes can help kill bacteria and temporarily mask bad breath. Mouthwashes are only a temporary solution, though, and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for proper dental hygiene.
Take Care of Your Tongue
Odor-causing bacteria tend to inhabit the tongue. Clean your tongue with a tongue-scraper, or by brushing it with your toothbrush.
Prevent Dry Mouth
If you suffer from dry mouth, you can address this problem by breathing through your nose and eating healthy foods that require a lot of chewing such as carrots and apples. Chewing sugar-free gum may also boost saliva production.
Clean Dentures, Retainers, and Other Devices
If you wear removable dentures, a retainer or other devices such as bite guards, clean these devices daily as directed by your dentist.
Visit your Dentist Regularly
If you’re concerned about the cause of your bad breath or find that over-the-counter remedies are unhelpful, make an appointment with your dentist to make sure that your bad breath isn’t a sign of something more serious.
Scheduling regular dental checkups and dental hygiene appointments can not only help to prevent bad breath, it’s also essential for good oral health.