Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a condition where individuals emanate an unattractive odor from their mouth. We’ve all experienced bad breath but having bad breath all the time can become embarrassing and induce anxiety. Mints or gum not working? Brushing your teeth not working? There are a variety of reasons why you may be experiencing chronic bad breath.
Causes of Bad Breath
The odor from food that you eat can stick around until the food has completely worked its way out of your system. Food is digested, enters your bloodstream and is carried to your lungs which then affects your breath. It can take up to three days for food to leave your system. Some things that also contribute to bad breath include eating onions, garlic and certain spices, or drinking coffee.
Smoking & Tobacco
Individuals that smoke have an increased risk of getting gum disease which is another source of bad breath. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those that smoke are twice as likely to experience gum disease. In addition to bad breath, smoking causes an array of other oral and overall health problems.
Poor Dental Hygiene
Brushing and flossing daily is very important in preventing bad breath. If you don’t brush or floss, food particles can remain in your mouth and cause bad breath. The tongue can also trap the bacteria that creates bad breath.
Hundreds of different types of bacteria live in your mouth. These different types of bacteria can lead to bad breath. Your mouth unfortunately acts as a hothouse for these bacteria and allows them to grow. When you eat food, these different types of bacteria that live in your mouth feed on the food particles left behind which leads to bad breath.
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can contribute to bad breath because the production of saliva is decreased. Saliva helps cleanse your mouth, removing particles that cause bad odors. If your body is not producing enough saliva, your mouth is not getting washed out properly. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep, leading to “morning breath,” and it worsens if you sleep with your mouth open. Chronic dry mouth can be caused by a problem with your salivary glands, medications and some diseases.
Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue, can destroy the bone that supports the teeth, and cause teeth to loosen or lead to tooth loss. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of a sticky, cavity-causing bacteria called plaque, which in turn contributes to bad breath.
Medical conditions that can cause bad breath include gastric reflux, liver or kidney disease, or diabetes, to name a few. If your dentist has ruled out any mouth infections or conditions and you are brushing and flossing daily, make sure to visit your healthcare provider.
There are some medications that contribute to dry mouth which is another source of bad breath. Other types of medications are broken down in the body and release chemicals that can be carried in your breath.
How to Prevent Bad Breath
There are some things that you can do to stop bad breath dead in its tracks.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Good oral hygiene includes brushing twice a day and flossing daily. In addition to brushing morning and night, it is also a good practice to brush after every meal. Using mouthwash can help kill bacteria and temporarily mask bad breath as well.
Drinking lots of water helps to keep your mouth wet and helps to prevent dry mouth. Chewing on sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless candy also helps stimulate saliva production which assists in washing food particles and bacteria away.
Quitting smoking is not only good for your oral health, but also good for your overall health. If you need help quitting, visit waytoquit.org. Way to Quit provides free and confidential tools to quit nicotine, available 24/7 and is proven to help you succeed. Quit online, by phone or text, or create a quit plan customized just for you.
Eat Fruits & Vegetables
Eating fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, celery and other hard fruits and vegetables help to clear odor-causing plaque and food particles from the mouth.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
You should be visiting your dentist at least twice a year (every 6 months) for your checkup and cleaning. At these appointments you’ll also receive an oral exam to determine if any treatment needs to be done such as a filling or crown.
If you haven’t been into your dentist in the last six months, schedule your appointment today with Roseman Dental.