Fighting Bad Breath
Do people take a step back when you’re speaking? Do friends, family and co-workers constantly offer you gum or breath mints? If so, you could be suffering from chronic bad breath—halitosis— and not even know it!
Causes of Bad Breath
Bad breath is commonly caused by the millions of bacteria that live in the mouth, especially on the tongue and gums. Other causes of bad breath include:
- certain foods and drinks, such as garlic, coffee or onions
- lack of, or improper, brushing and flossing: food particles remain in the mouth and decay, producing odor
- dry mouth from medications, salivary gland problems, breathing from the mouth, or even dieting; saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth of food particles and bacteria that cause odor
- tobacco products
- periodontal (gum) disease
- medical conditions: diabetes; kidney, liver, lung, sinus or reflux disease
Most types of periodic bad breath aren’t cause for concern. In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If your dentist determines the problem is not related to oral health, you may be referred to your family doctor or to a specialist to determine the odor source and treatment plan.
Busting Bad Breath
Maintaining good oral care is often all it takes to keep odor-causing bacteria at bay.
- Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush teeth after you eat (keep a toothbrush at work or school to brush after lunch). Don’t forget to brush the tongue, too. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months or after an illness.
- Use floss or an inter-dental cleaner to remove food particles and plaque between teeth once a day.
- Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash twice a day.
- Remove dentures at night and clean them thoroughly before putting them in the next morning.
- See your dentist regularly – at least twice a year – to detect and treat periodontal disease, dry mouth or other oral health issues that can cause bad breath. A professional. teeth cleaning will remove the buildup of plaque and bacteria that cause odor.
Lifestyle changes can also help you beat bad breath:
- Stop smoking and chewing tobacco-based products.
- Drink lots of water to keep your mouth moist. Chewing gum (preferably sugarless) or sucking on candy (preferably sugarless) also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria. Gums and mints containing xylitol are best.
Keep a log of the foods you eat if you think they may be causing bad breath. Similarly, make a list of the medications you take as some may play a role in creating mouth odors