Bad breath can happen to anyone. In fact, studies show that 50 percent of adults have had bad breath, also known as halitosis, at some point in their lives.
What Causes Bad Breath?
There are a number of reasons you might have bad breath. While most of the causes are harmless, some can indicate something more serious.
Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria naturally live in your mouth as it acts like a natural hothouse that allows them to flourish. When you eat, bacteria feed on the remnants of food left in your mouth. This process leaves a foul-smelling waste product behind that causes bad breath.
Your mouth may not be making enough saliva. Saliva is important because as it constantly washes out your mouth. If you don’t have enough saliva, your mouth and teeth aren’t being cleaned as much as they should be. Dry mouth can be brought on by certain medications, untreated salivary gland issues or by breathing through your mouth. Staying properly hydrated is important to prevent a dry mouth. Doctors recommend drinking 2 liters of water, or eight 8 ounce bottles per day to prevent dehydration.
Persistent bad breath that won’t go away or a constant bad taste in your mouth can be an indicator of advanced gum disease. Gum disease is when sticky, cavity-causing bacteria called plaque cause your gums to become infected and inflamed.
Garlic, onions, coffee… The list of breath-fouling foods is long, and what you eat affects the air you exhale. Make sure you brush after consuming these odiferous foods and drinks or at least have mouthwash or mints on hand.
Smoking and Tobacco Use
Not only does smoking give you bad breath, it also stains your teeth and puts you at risk for a host of health problems including gum disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease and various types of cancer. Tobacco use reduces your sense of taste and irritates gum tissues. Since smoking also affects your sense of smell, smokers may not be aware of how bad their breath smells.
While it makes sense that gum disease and other mouth infections can cause bad breath, other medical conditions can also cause it. If your dentist has ruled out other dental or oral health issues and you brush and floss every day, your halitosis could be the result of another problem, such as a sinus condition, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. In this case, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
How Can I Prevent Bad Breath?
Brush and Floss
Brushing twice daily and cleaning between your teeth daily with floss will help rid you of bacteria in your mouth that’s causing your bad breath.
Take Care of Your Tongue
Don’t forget to clean your tongue when you’re brushing your teeth. If you stick out your tongue and look at the very back, you’ll see a white or brown coating. That’s the area where most of bacteria that cause bad breath can be found. Use your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to clean them off your tongue.
Over-the-counter mouthwashes can kill some of the bacteria or neutralize and temporarily mask bad breath. However, this solution is only temporary. The longer you wait between brushing and flossing, the more likely your breath will be offensive.
Clean Your Dentures
If you wear removable dentures, remove them at night, and clean them thoroughly before their next use.
Keep Saliva In Your Mouth
Eat healthy foods that require a lot of chewing, like carrots or apples and stay hydrated to keep plenty of saliva in your mouth. You can chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candies. Your dentist may also recommend artificial saliva if these quick fixes do not help.
Schedule Regular Appointments With Your Dentist
If in the Novi MI area and you’re concerned about what might be causing your bad breath, schedule an appointment to see Dr. Christopher Paulson or Dr. Lindsay Holman at Arbor Dental Associates. Regular check-ups will help your Dr. Paulson or Dr. Holman to spot any impending problems such as gum disease or dry mouth and stop them before they become more serious. If your your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your primary care doctor. To schedule a consultation with your Arbor Dental Associates dentist, call (248) 553-9393 or make an appointment online.