Halitosis, aka bad breath, is an extremely common problem that can affect anyone at any age. Unfortunately, it is also one that can make the sufferer feel self-conscious and embarrassed, leading many to avoid professional, social and personal situations where they may need to breathe closely to other people.
There are multiple causes of bad breath, but thankfully there are also ways to treat it and minimize the risk of developing it again.
Causes of Bad Breath
So, what causes bad breath? There are numerous factors that can affect the way that your breath smells, some of which are more easily solved than others.
Poor Oral Hygiene
The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene, which can be as simple as not brushing your teeth twice each day. This is because the bacteria that build upon and in-between our teeth, and on our gums and tongue, can produce foul-smelling gases.
If the bacteria are not cleared away regularly through brushing and flossing, the smell will become much more prominent, which is why many people find that their breath smells worse in the mornings.
Not looking after your oral hygiene can also lead to tooth decay, gum disease and a whole range of dental problems, meaning that regular brushing and flossing is not only essential for your breath, but also for your overall oral health.
Food and Drink
Certain foods and beverages, such as onions, garlic, coffee and alcohol, all have strong tastes and odors. Heavy consumption of these foods can cause your breath to adopt the same smell. However, you can improve your halitosis by limiting your intake of these products and using chewing gum or brushing immediately after eating.
We all know that smoking is one of the worst possible things we can do in terms of our overall health and wellbeing. However, many people don’t realize that it a leading cause of poor oral hygiene and as a result, bad breath. This is because smoking causes a greater build-up of sticky tartar, which attracts odor-ridden bacteria and makes it difficult to remove.
Medical Conditions and Medications
Bad breath is a side effect of some medical conditions, including:
- Gastro-esophageal conditions
Similarly, some types of medication can be responsible for halitosis, in particular: nitrates, which are used to treat angina, tranquilizers and some chemotherapy drugs.
How to Treat Bad Breath
If you have bad breath as a result of a medication you have been prescribed, you should speak to your doctor to see if there is an alternative drug you can take that does not have this side effect. However, there are also some general steps you can take to ensure that your breath is as fresh and clean as possible.
Brush and floss regularly
The single biggest thing that you can do to prevent bad breath is to brush and floss your teeth regularly – ideally at least twice a day. This will remove bacteria and reduce the likelihood of foul breath and tooth decay.
Many people underestimate the power of a good, germ-killing mouthwash. Not only does it also remove any stubborn bacteria that may still be stuck inside your mouth after brushing, but the minty taste can improve the smell of your breath.
Clean your tongue
It is not just your teeth and gums that attract bacteria, your tongue also acts as an ideal host. If you can’t clean your tongue sufficiently just using a toothbrush, consider purchasing disposable tongue scrapers, which are specifically designed for the job!
It is renowned for being hard to do, but if you can stop smoking not only will you be doing your teeth and breath a favor, but you will also be helping to protect yourself against a range of serious health conditions including cancer.
Avoid smelly food and drink
Some of the smelliest foods are also the tastiest, but if you have an important meeting or date, then even avoiding consuming these products in the 48 hours ahead of your event can significantly reduce the likelihood of your breath smelling unpleasant.
Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense against plaque acids that cause tooth decay and bad breath. So rather than opting for sugar-filled breath mints, choose sugar-free gum as an easy way to reduce your risk of developing tooth decay and bad breath. Some experts believe that a stick of gum after every meal is one of the best steps you can take to protect your oral health.
Dehydration also spells trouble for tooth decay and bad breath. Drinking plenty of water during the day can help ensure your mouth remains moist and will benefit your overall body functions.
If you are suffering from bad breath which persists despite trying the tips listed above, it could be caused by a more advanced dental problem, like an infected tooth or advanced gum disease. If you haven’t been to the dentist for a checkup, we recommend scheduling an appointment as soon as possible.