Most people will notice that their breath smells a little funky from time to time, particularly in the mornings. However, some of these individuals will find that bad breath seems to be a problem all of the time. In fact, it is extremely common, and it’s estimated that nearly 60 million people in the U.S. are living with chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis. This may often cause them to be self-conscious or even embarrassed about getting too close to the people around them. Fortunately, we’ve got the lowdown on how to get rid of bad breath — for good.
What Is Bad Breath?
Bad breath is an oral health problem that affects the odor that emanates from someone’s mouth. It can occur at any age or time of the day, but it tends to be worse first thing in the morning. There are many possible causes of bad breath. Understanding what causes your bad breath is usually the first and most successful step in treating the problem.
What Causes Bad Breath?
There are many different things that can cause someone to have bad breath. Here are some of the most common causes of halitosis.
Poor Oral Hygiene
The most common cause of bad breath is considered to be poor oral hygiene. This is because failing to brush and floss your teeth daily and not seeing your dentist could enable plaque to accumulate on your teeth and gums. Plaque contains millions of bacteria — many of which counteract with amino acids in foods to produce smelly compounds. Any particles of food that remain in the mouth and lodged between teeth and/or gums can also rot causing a foul odor and taste.
Eating Certain Foods
Some of the foods that we enjoy naturally have a strong odor. When we eat them, they are absorbed into the body and bloodstream where they can continue to emit a strong odor that could affect your breath — and even your sweat — until it is fully digested. Garlic and onions are two of the most well-known odor-causing foods.
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is much more likely if you have poor oral hygiene. It occurs when plaque spreads onto the gums causing irritation, infection, redness and swelling. Eventually, it can lead to gum recession and even tooth loss if it isn’t treated promptly. However, bad breath is one of the main symptoms of gum disease and an indicator that you should make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can.
Many people suffer from a condition called dry mouth (or xerostomia). It happens when they don’t produce enough saliva — which is essential for helping to remove food debris left in the mouth after eating. It can be caused by some medicines, salivary gland disorders or simply by breathing through the mouth.
Underlying Health Conditions
Bad breath is a common symptom of a range of health problems including but not limited to:
- Liver/kidney diseases
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Chronic acid reflux
- Respiratory infections such as chronic sinusitis
What Are the Symptoms of Bad Breath?
Unsurprisingly, the most common symptom of bad breath is a foul odor emanating from your mouth. However, that isn’t the only sign of halitosis. Other symptoms associated with the condition include:
- A white coating on the tongue which may appear particularly thick at the back.
- Thick saliva and a continuous feeling like you need to clear your throat.
- A persistent sour, bitter or metallic taste in your mouth.
- Buildup of plaque around the teeth near the gum line.
- Postnasal drip that feels like fluid draining down your throat.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Seeing a dental professional may not only improve the smell of your breath, but it could also catch any underlying conditions that need immediate treatment.
6 Tips to Get Rid of Bad Breath
The good news is that you don’t need to live with bad breath for a moment longer. There are plenty of things that you can do to eliminate this problem and get odor-free or fresh-smelling breath once more. Let’s take a look at how to get rid of bad breath for good.
- Brush Your Teeth
Good oral hygiene is essential for treating bad breath, and this starts with brushing your teeth at least twice each day — once in the morning and once before bed. Use a soft-medium bristled toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. While brushing, pay close attention to where the teeth meet the gums because this is where plaque can accumulate and spread onto the gums to cause gum disease.
- Take Time to Floss
Flossing is crucial for removing tiny particles of food and plaque that can get stuck in the tiny crevices between teeth that a toothbrush just can’t reach. Floss at least once every day using your preferred type of floss — whether it’s traditional tape, interdental brushes or even a water flosser.
- Avoid Foods With a Strong Odor
One of the easiest ways to keep your breath odor neutral is to avoid foods and drinks with a strong odor in the first place. Examples include onion, garlic, tuna, coffee, acidic drinks like orange juice and fizzy alcohol.
- Don’t Use Tobacco
Any type of tobacco can cause halitosis. It can also cause a wide range of health problems.
- Use Chewing Gum Between Meals/After Snacks
Chewing gum doesn’t only have a fresh taste and flavor that can improve the smell of your breath, but it also stimulates the production of saliva. This can counteract dry mouth and help to wash away tiny food particles and plaque that may be stuck on your teeth. Drinking a glass of water with your meals will also have the same effect. It’s important to chew sugar-free gum for positive effects. Most sugar-free chewing gums contain xylitol which has the added benefit of helping to prevent cavities.
- Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Your dentist will be able to monitor your oral health and advise you if there are other things you can do that will improve the way your breath smells. Most patients are also recommended to have professional dental cleanings at least twice every year. This is where your dentist or hygienist will use their skill, experience and expert equipment to provide an enhanced cleaning of your teeth and mouth. Only professional dental cleanings can remove tartar (hardened plaque) that can also contribute to bad breath.
Plan Your Visit to West Coast Dental
If you are concerned about bad breath or if you have any other questions about your oral health, schedule an appointment at West Coast Dental today. Our professional staff will have your breath and smile ready to face the world.
Colgate Professional – Bad Breath: Do You Have It? You May Not Know You Do
Medical News Today – What causes a sudden change in body odor?
World Health Organization (WHO) – Oral health
American Dental Association (ADA) – Targeting bad breath
California Dental Association (CDA) – Xylitol The Decay-Preventive Sweetener