Are you suffering from bad breath? Chronic bad breath, or halitosis, is a common problem that can have a negative impact on your personal and professional life. Fortunately, most cases of bad breath can be resolved with proper oral hygiene habits and simple lifestyle changes.
The first step to combating your bad breath is to determine the cause. Here are some ways to uncover the cause of your bad breath and what you can do to stop it once and for all.
Common Hauses of Halitosis
- Poor Oral Hygiene
If you have frequent bad breath, consider the effectiveness of your oral hygiene habits. Are you brushing at least twice a day for a full two minutes each time? Do you floss daily to remove odor-causing bacteria from between the teeth? Having an abundance of bacteria in the mouth is the most common cause of halitosis. Without proper brushing and flossing, tiny particles of food can remain trapped in your teeth and on your tongue to promote the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
Certain dishes that contain ingredients with strong odors, like garlic, onions or vinegar, can contribute to bad breath long after you have finished your meal. Once you determine the main odor-causing culprits in your diet, you can take the steps to reduce or even eliminate the foods that give you bad breath. Brushing your teeth immediately after you eat can also help fight bad breath caused by specific foods.
- Dry Mouth
Saliva plays an active role in washing away bacteria in the mouth that causes bad odors. When your mouth is dry, however, the odor-causing bacteria remains in the mouth, resulting in bad breath. For most people, saliva production decreases while you sleep, which is why many people have “morning breath.” For others, dry mouth may be a result of certain medications or illnesses and require treatment by your doctor.
- Tobacco Use
Smoking already produces an unpleasant odor. It also contributes to dry mouth and increases your risk for cavities and gum disease, all of which cause bad breath.
- Gum Disease
Gum disease is caused by plaque—an odor-causing bacteria that collects on your teeth. For this reason, chronic bad breath or a lingering bad taste in your mouth may be a warning sign of gum disease.
- Chronic Conditions
In more serious cases, bad breath may be a symptom of a disease in another part of your body. Diabetes, acid reflux, kidney disease and sinus infections have all been linked to halitosis.
Treating Bad Breath
Many people can put an end to their unpleasant breath by doing a combination of the following:
- Brush twice a day for a full two minutes each time. Remember to clean your tongue to remove excess bacteria in the mouth.
- Floss daily to clean food debris and plaque from between teeth and along the gum line.
- Consider using an antibacterial mouthwash after your brush to kill bacteria and freshen your mouth.
- Stay up-to-date with your twice-yearly dental check-ups and cleanings.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to increase saliva flow in the mouth, and limit caffeine or tobacco products.
- Boost saliva production by chewing sugar-free gum or eating healthy foods like carrots or apples that require a lot of chewing.
If you continue to suffer from bad breath after following good dental hygiene practices, talk to your dentist. Your dentist can get to the bottom of your halitosis and make recommendations on how to best treat the condition.