We live in a busy world fueled by coffee and quick meals. When you’re running from home to school to the office and back to school, it’s not always easy to fit in your normal oral care routine. Enter bad breath, and it’s not pleasant for you or anyone else.
While bad breath is normal in many circumstances, like when you wake up in the morning, it’s sometimes a deeper medical issue. What happens if you brush, floss, and use mouthwash but can’t shake the bad breath? The scientific term is halitosis, and roughly 20% of Americans suffer from clinically bad breath.
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What Are The Causes Of Bad Breath?
Typically, bad breath results from food buildup in your mouth that allows bacteria to grow between your teeth, around your gums, and on your tongue. The bacteria and the food debris work together to give you bad breath, or halitosis.
Some factors make the situation worse, to the point that brushing alone isn’t enough to overcome the bad breath. You can’t treat something if you don’t know what causes it, so understanding the source of your bad breath is the first step.
Did you know that your mouth produces about one liter of saliva every day? Saliva is the substance that moistens your mouth, but it also contains enzymes that break down food particles and protect your teeth from bacteria and decay. If you have a dry mouth, then you don’t get the protection you need to clear away the debris and bacteria, leading to bad breath.
Most people know that smoking causes bad breath but they might not know why. Cigarettes contain several extremely pungent chemicals that linger long after your last hit. That after-smell is tough to get rid of, and even worse, smoking cigarettes dries out your mouth.
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Poor Oral Hygiene
Everyone learns at a young age that we should brush twice a day, floss, and possibly use mouthwash. While it’s okay to skip every now and again but it really becomes a problem when oral health is totally neglected. Not only could it trigger an assortment of other health problems, but your breath will also suffer.
Brushing your teeth removes bacteria and food particles. If you don’t brush, those food particles remain in your mouth where they encourage bacterial growth between your gums, teeth, and tongue. As you can guess, the result is horrendous breath.
Bad breath can also alert you to the presence of gum disease. It’s actually one of the warning signs that somebody has periodontal disease. The buildup along the gumline doesn’t just trigger bad breath, it also irritates the gums to the point of inflammation.
Other Reasons For Bad Breath
Several other possibilities could cause bad breath, including common illnesses. These conditions typically trigger temporary bouts of halitosis.
- Sinus and upper respiratory infections commonly cause bad breath.
- The tonsils can accumulate calcified matter that smells foul and emulates bad breath.
- Sometimes, acid enters your esophagus, which causes odorous gas to escape to your mouth.
If you have bad breath and can’t determine the cause, it’s best to see a dental professional for an examination and workup. The friendly team at Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics can help!
How To Prevent Bad Breath
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if there were a magic pill that permanently ended halitosis? Perhaps someday there will be, but until somebody discovers one, we need to rely on traditional preventative methods.
Improve Oral Hygiene
Since most halitosis comes from excess bacteria in the mouth, the first step is taking control of your oral health routine. Even if you think you have a solid oral care routine, it might be worthwhile to refine or enhance it just a smidge.
- Brush twice a day for two minutes each time. Don’t forget to gently clean your tongue because it’s a haven for bacteria.
- Floss once a day and make sure to get between every tooth.
- Mouthwash helps rinse away bacteria after brushing and flossing.
- Some people use a tongue scraper to scrape away excess bacteria.
- Chew sugar-free mints or gum to stimulate your salivary glands and mask the bad breath.
- Breath sprays can temporarily mask bad breath.
If you spend a lot of time running around and find it difficult to brush when you want to, try a travel kit. With a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and a bottle of water, you can do wonders for your mouth almost anywhere!
Smoking is bad for your health on top of causing bad breath. Kicking the habit is one of the best things you can do for your oral health.
Coffee may be the most glorious way to kick off your day, but it’s also notorious for causing bad breath. If you’re in the habit of drinking coffee all day, you might want to dial it back.
Dehydration is one of the biggest causes of bad breath. Chronic dry mouth puts you at risk of developing halitosis. Drinking more water is one of the best ways to increase saliva production, which helps naturally rinse the mouth throughout the day and night.
Remedies To Cure Bad Breath
Dealing with bad breath isn’t a picnic for anyone, but there are some remedies to improve your situation. When you know what’s causing your halitosis, you can take steps to fight it.
Treat Underlying Medical Problems
If your bad breath stems from underlying medical conditions, getting them under control is the first step. Allergies with post nasal drip, gastrointestinal problems, sleep apnea, heart problems, kidney problems, stomach cancer, diabetes and acid reflux can all feature bad breath as an unpleasant side effect. Speak with your doctor to discuss treatment options
While breath mints and rinses can freshen your breath almost instantly, natural remedies offer an alternative approach. Many of these remedies are available at your local grocery store!
- Herbs like clove, peppermint, fennel, anise seeds, tea tree, sage and myrrh can alleviate bad breath.
- Chewing on fresh parsley leaves can fight bad breath.
- Drinking tea is also a natural remedy for fighting bacteria in the mouth that causes bad breath.
- Drinking a mixture of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and water have all been mentioned as remedies for treating halitosis.
Finally, some people develop bad breath from vitamin or mineral deficiencies, like zinc. If you have concerns about a vitamin or mineral deficiency, it’s best to speak with your physician before trying supplements or probiotics.
Making some minor changes to your diet could help your bad breath as well. For example, if you go heavy with onions and garlic, you might want to dial it back.
You could also carry an orange or apple with you as a tasty snack and bad breath fighter. The vitamin C in oranges help increase saliva production and apples neutralize garlic breath.
Drinking green tea after a meal is good for your health, including your oral health. It turns out that green tea is effective at fighting bacteria.
Regular Dental Visits
Again, one of the most important things you can do is speak to your dentist about bad breath. They can perform an oral examination to delve further into what’s causing your bad breath.
Your dentist may even use a device called a Halimeter, which is an electronic device that monitors hydrogen sulfide in the breath to clinically diagnose halitosis. Once your dentist has diagnosed your bad breath, you can tackle treating the root cause of the condition.
Products Available To Remedy Bad Breath
Some products can help you battle bad breath without adding too much work to your daily routine. While these products shouldn’t substitute your normal oral care, they make excellent supplements.
Try a tongue scraper. Found in most drug stores, tongue scrapers can remove debris and bacteria from your tongue that would otherwise cause bad breath.
Portable mini toothbrushes, like Colgate Wisp, come with toothpaste already applied, making them convenient when you’re away from home for longer periods. They are disposable and can be used without rinsing.
Your dentist may prescribe a stronger mouthwash that contains special ingredients to target bacteria in your mouth. Medicated or therapeutic mouthwash requires a prescription and treats many oral health issues that typically trigger bad breath, like dry mouth and gingivitis.
If you have concerns about bad breath or can’t seem to control it with a normal oral care routine, it’s time to speak with a dentist. The team at Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics can figure out what’s causing your halitosis and help you find a solution.