Bad breath is a source of embarrassment for both those who have it, and the people surrounding them. Fortunately, this problem is often easy to fix. Find a dentist who can help by ruling out any underlying conditions or other factors (such as some medications, diets, and foods) that could be making your breath less than pleasant.
What Causes Bad Breath?
There are no statistics on what percentage of the population actually has bad breath. These kinds of studies most likely wind up being inaccurate, because they rely on someone reporting whether or not they think they have bad breath. Studies do, however, show that about 80% of bad breath comes from an oral source. For instance, cavities or gum disease can lead to bad breath, as well as cracked fillings, dirty dentures and tonsils that have trapped food particles.
Several internal medical conditions can also cause your breath to suffer. They include diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, and chronic bronchitis. You’ll want to have your dentist rule out things like acid reflux, postnasal drip, and other causes of chronic dry mouth.
There are several ways to prevent bad breath:
Brush and floss regularly.
One of the most common causes of bad breath is plaque, the sticky buildup in your mouth that holds bacteria. Food caught between teeth adds to this problem. You should brush at least twice a day and floss daily. If you’re concerned about your breath, you can brush and floss a little more often than this, but don’t overdo it. Brushing too aggressively can wear down enamel, making your teeth more vulnerable to decay.
Scrape your tongue.
The coating that normally forms on the tongue can host foul-smelling bacteria. To get rid of them, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush. If it’s too big to comfortably reach the back of your tongue, try a tongue scraper.
Avoid foods that sour your breath.
Onions and garlic are the prime offenders of bad breath, and unfortunately, brushing after you eat them doesn’t help. The only way to avoid the problem is to not eat them when you’re mindful of your breath, such as during social occasions.
Kick the habit.
Don’t smoke. Smoking damages gum tissue and stains teeth. It also makes you more likely to get oral cancer.
Mints and gum can help mask bad breath but if you’re using sugary brands, you’re actually adding to the problem. Bacteria in your mouth tend to ferment sugar, which leads to those very unpleasant odors. So stick with sugar-free gums and mints.
Wet Your Whistle
Your saliva contains vital protective enzymes that help kill bad bacteria, so a dry mouth can be contributing to your smelly situation. Staying hydrated will help stimulate the salivary glands, and keep your mouth properly moisturized. If you’re guzzling the optimal 8 glasses of H2O a day, and you’re still desert-dry, speak to your dentist.
Take a Tea Break
Drinking tea can help with bad breath as well, according to the American Society for Microbiology. Research out of the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that polyphenols and chemical components found in black and green tea, can prevent the growth of the bacteria responsible for bad breath, as well as the bacteria’s production of putrid smelling compounds.
Find a dentist, and visit with them regularly to decrease your chances of having the bad breath blues. Regardless of how you feel about your breath, you should always be taking care of your teeth and gums in order to prevent any number of oral problems.