Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be embarrassing and tough on those around you. Don’t feel bad though. Nearly 1 in 3 people have bad breath.
Fortunately, this problem is often easy to fix. What helps? Good oral hygiene, regular visits to your dentist, and ruling out any other factors, such as some medications, diets, and foods, that could make your breath less than pleasant.
What causes Bad Breath?
Bad breath is often caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth that causes inflammation and gives off noxious odors or gases that smell bad. Everybody has nasty breath at some point, like when you get out of bed in the morning.
If you’re not sure if you have bad breath, ask a trusted friend. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell on your own. There is also another way to know. It may seem a bit gross, but look at and smell your dental floss after you use it. If your floss smells or there is blood on it, then there are probably foul odors in your mouth.
Studies show that about 80% of bad breath comes from an oral source. For instance, cavities or gum disease can lead to bad breath, as can tonsils that have trapped food particles, cracked fillings, and less-than-clean dentures.
Several internal medical conditions can also cause your breath to turn bad. They include diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, and chronic bronchitis. You’ll want to see your doctor to rule out things like acid reflux, postnasal drip, and other causes of chronic dry mouth.
What can help Bad Breath?
If your bad breath is not cause by a medical condition, then the best thing that you can do is be sure to visit your dentist at least every six months and take good care of your teeth and gums at home. Ideally, you should brush and floss after every meal to help reduce the odor-causing bacteria in your mouth. While a regular toothbrush works just fine, we recommend using an electric toothbrush with a timer. This encourages most to brush their teeth for a full two minutes! Electric toothbrushes also have a uniform motion that helps remove plaque more efficiently than manual brushes.
What you eat affects breath. That’s because as food is digested, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream and then is released by your lungs when you breathe. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and regular meals. Snacking on raw carrots, celery, or apple slices can help clear your mouth of food particles.
Avoid breath busters such as garlic, onions, and some other spicy foods. Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water can help speed up the process of cleaning harmful bacteria and debris from between your teeth. Avoid sugary drinks and don’t drink too much coffee. It may be tasty, but coffee is a tough smell to get off the back of your tongue. Consider switching to an herbal or green tea.
Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products. Cigarettes, pipes, and snuff can give people foul breath. Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol can lead to a dry mouth. Too much beer, wine, and hard liquor can make your breath reek for up to 10 hours after you finish drinking.
Chew sugarless gum. Doing so 20 minutes after a meal can help with saliva flow. Gum that’s 100% xylitol-sweetened can help reduce cavities while freshening breath.