5 Easy Ways To Eliminate Bad Breath
What is halitosis? It sounds like a dreaded disease, but really it just means bad breath. So no, it won’t kill you, but it can make you self-conscious. Don’t feel bad, though -- almost 1 in 3 people have bad breath. What is halitosis caused by, and how can you make your breath minty fresh? Keep reading!
What Is Halitosis Caused By?
The Academy of General Dentistry says about 90% of bad breath starts inside your mouth. It usually happens when bacteria breaks down proteins in food and then gives off hydrogen sulfide gases that don’t smell great. So if you eat something with lots of onions and garlic, and then you don’t brush your teeth, you guessed it -- bacteria will go to town on those little bits of food in your teeth!
But smelly foods may not always be to blame. If you have dry mouth (or “xerostomia” in dental-speak) you make less saliva than what is considered normal. Without enough saliva, bacteria builds up in your mouth. And presto, bad breath strikes again. (Talk to your dentist about ways to deal with dry mouth.) Fun fact: Lack of saliva is why everyone gets morning breath. While you’re sleeping, your saliva production goes way down, so bacteria have a heyday.
Other Causes of Bad Breath
Certain oral conditions can also cause halitosis. Periodontal (or gum) disease ultimately leads to tooth loss and a host of other issues in the body - and the bacteria that cause periodontal disease emit a distinctive, not-so-pleasant smell. Smoking not only gives you bad breath, but it also raises your risk of gum disease. So if you quit smoking, your breath and your gums will improve!
In about 10% of people, other medical conditions or medications cause bad breath. Gastroesophageal reflux (think heart burn), chronic nasal, sinus and throat infections or drainage, and even stress can contribute to bad breath. If you’re taking angina medication that includes nitrates, for example, that can also cause halitosis.
So bad breath is usually caused by food or not brushing or flossing enough, but it can also be a sign of a bigger health problem.
How to Prevent Bad Breath
If your bad breath is from bacteria breaking down food in your mouth, diligent oral care will both treat and prevent it. Brushing and flossing remove bacterial sources from the teeth. Make sure you brush your tongue too (not so hard that it bleeds, though). One symptom of bad breath is a whitish tongue (from build up of bacteria).
Since a lot of bacteria hangs out on your tongue, you might want to use a tongue scraper. That will help get rid of mucus and food on your tongue. Researchers at the University of Buffalo found that brushing your teeth and tongue twice a day can give you nicer-smelling breath. Try it!
Drinking plenty of water is also important, because when you’re dehydrated, you have less saliva. And saliva has protective neutralizing benefits that naturally control odors. Eating lots of fruits and veggies is not only nutritious, but it can give you better breath and keep you hydrated.
See Your Dentist
If you have bad breath from periodontal disease, get it treated! Many patients note that their bad breath goes away after they get treatment for gum disease. Decay and infections in the teeth also are known to cause bad breath. Therefore, anyone with halitosis would benefit from a dental exam.
I hope that helped you learn what is halitosis and how to prevent bad breath! If you have bad breath on a regular basis, come see us at Batchelor Dentistry. We’ll help figure out where it’s coming from. Sometimes a good teeth cleaning is all you need to get rid of the plaque that is home to odor-causing bacteria.
Suffering from halitosis? Make an appointment today!