Bad breath or halitosis is something everyone experiences at some point in their lives. It can have many different causes but is always embarrassing. More importantly, bad breath can often be an indication of a health concern. Let’s explore some common causes of bad breath and some real solutions to keep halitosis at bay.
What Causes Bad Breath?
Every day culprits can affect the smell of your breath including what you eat. That favorite dish loaded with garlic and onions is sure to cause bad breath. Coffee is another common culprit. In addition, due to no fault of your own, everyday oral bacteria can cause bad breath symptoms in your mouth. These bacteria live in your mouth, feeding off food and sugars left on top and in-between teeth, creating foul-smelling waste products. Thankfully our mouths have the natural defense of saliva that continually rinses our teeth and gums of these bacteria. People experiencing dry mouth due to medications or salivary gland problems may be more prone to bad breath because nothing is rinsing away bacteria.
Advanced gum disease or periodontal disease could be a common cause of bad breath. Left untreated, gum disease has been linked to more serious health problems such as heart disease. Even more severe medical issues such as mouth infection, a sinus condition, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver disease or kidney disease could be a cause of halitosis. It’s time to take it seriously.
Depending on the root cause of your bad breath, there are solutions. First and foremost, daily oral care is essential. Putting in place the twice daily habit of brushing and flossing is your first line of defense. In addition, don’t forget your tongue. A toothbrush or tongue scraper can wipe away that white or brown coating, removing many odor-causing bacteria. Another level of added protection from halitosis is adding mouthwash to your routine.
Since saliva is your mouth’s natural defense against bad breath, increasing production can help. Foods that require lots of chewing (think carrots or celery) trigger saliva production. Chewing sugar-free gum can help increase saliva too, and often comes in a minty flavor. If your medication is causing dry mouth, speak with your dentist about artificial saliva solutions. And of course, see your dentist regularly. With bi-annual visits, your dentist can be on top of any and all changes going on in your mouth. Gum disease symptoms can be caught early and bad breath causing issues addressed as soon as possible.
Pay attention to your mouth. If your bad breath won’t go away and isn’t being caused by your favorite garlic filled meal, then it’s time to talk with your dentist.