Have you ever leaned in to kiss your significant other, only to have them back away because your breath smelled horrible? If so, you’re not alone. Research has shown that more than half of American adults have had bad breath at some point in their lives. Here are six possible causes of bad breath, and how your dentist suggests you overcome it.
Causes of Bad Breath
There are several reasons you might have bad breath, also known as halitosis. Some of them are:
Your mouth is home to an abundance of bacteria. When you eat, these bacteria feed on the food particles in your mouth and leave behind awful-smelling waste.
If your mouth doesn’t have enough saliva, your mouth doesn’t get properly washed out of leftover bits of food and bacteria. Dry mouth may be caused by salivary gland issues, certain medications, or just breathing through your mouth.
Chronic halitosis is a warning sign of gum disease, a bacterial infection in the gum tissue caused by plaque. If your gums bleed when you brush and floss, contact your dentist to get yourself checked out.
Smoking and chewing tobacco put you at risk for all sorts of health problems besides just bad breath. Smokers are more than twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop gum disease, for example. Because smoking also hinders your sense of smell, smokers may not be aware of just how atrocious their breath really is.
Lots of foods and drinks affect the odor of the air you exhale, including coffee, garlic, and onions.
If your dentist has ruled out infections like gum disease and you still have persistent bad breath, see your doctor for an evaluation. It could be a sign of another health problem, like a sinus infection, diabetes, or acid reflux.
How to Prevent Bad Breath
Luckily, there are multiple ways to keep halitosis at bay, including:
Brush and Floss
To get rid of bacteria that’s causing your bad breath, brush twice a day and floss between your teeth daily.
Clean Your Dentures
If you wear dentures, soak them in a cleaning solution every night. Also, brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush every morning before placing them in your mouth.
Rinse with Mouthwash
Store-bought mouthwash can temporarily neutralize bad breath. However, the longer you wait to actually brush and floss, the worse your breath will become.
Keep Your Saliva Flowing
Eat plenty of healthy foods that require lots of chewing, like carrots or apples. This will get saliva moving around your mouth. You could also try sucking on sugar-free candies or lozenges or chewing sugarless gum.
Not only will quitting smoking improve your breath, but your quality of life will get better in many other ways.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
If you tried all of these methods and still have severe halitosis, try asking your dentist what’s going on. Regular checkups allow your dentist to diagnose health problems like gum disease while they’re still in the early stages and easy to treat. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy, see your primary care doctor.
About the Author
Dr. J. Peter St. Clair graduated from Tufts University’s School of Dental Medicine and has been practicing in Newburyport, MA for more than a decade. He is a current Faculty Club Member at Spear Education, one of the leading post-graduate dental education facilities in the world. His goal is to help patients understand their oral health and provide a customized treatment plan to best suit their needs. He will work with you to determine the cause of your halitosis. To learn more, click here to visit Dr. St. Clair’s website.