Bad breath can happen to anyone. In fact, studies show that 50 percent of adults have had chronic bad breath — better known as halitosis — at some point in their lives.
What Causes Bad Breath?
There are a variety of reasons you may have bad breath. While most of the causes of halitosis are harmless, some can warn of something more serious.
Living bacteria thrive in the warm, wet environs of our mouths. When you eat, bacteria feed on the particles of food left in your mouth. This process leaves behind a foul-smelling waste product that causes bad breath.
It is possible your mouth may not be producing enough saliva. Adequate saliva is important because it constantly washes bacteria and food particles out of your mouth. If you don’t have enough saliva, your mouth and teeth aren’t being cleaned as thoroughly as they should be. Dry mouth can be triggered by certain medications, untreated salivary gland issues or by breathing through your mouth. Keeping properly hydrated is necessary to prevent a dry mouth. Doctors recommend drinking at least 2 liters of water, or eight 8 ounce bottles per day to prevent dehydration.
Persistent bad breath or a constant bad taste in your mouth that will not go away can be an indicator of a case of advanced gum disease. Gum disease is when a sticky, cavity-causing substance called plaque builds up on your teeth near your gums, causing them to become infected and inflamed. Gum disease can cause not only halitosis but also put your teeth and jaw bone tissue at risk.
While it makes sense that gum disease and other mouth infections can lead to bad breath, other medical conditions can also cause it. If your dentist has ruled out gum disease or other dental or oral health problems and you brush and floss every day, your halitosis could be the result of a medical issue. Issues as varied as sinus conditions, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease can contribute to bad breath. In these cases, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
How Can I Prevent Bad Breath?
Brush and Floss
Kind of self explanatory, but brushing twice daily and cleaning between your teeth daily with floss will help rid you of the bacteria in your mouth that’s causing your bad breath. The digestive processes of bacteria causes smelly breath and can be cleaned away with more frequent brushing and flossing.
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. This is the location where most of the bad breath-causing bacteria live. 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, and does not replace regular brushing and flossing. Even with mouthwash, if you neglect basic oral hygiene, the more likely your breath will be offensive.
Keep Saliva In Your Mouth
Eat healthy foods that require a lot of chewing, such as carrots or apples and stay hydrated to maintain 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 you’re in the Plano, TX area and you’re concerned about what might be causing your bad breath, schedule an appointment to see Dr. Mark Sowell at Sensational Smiles. Regular check-ups will help your dentist spot any impending problems, such as gum disease or dry mouth, and stop them before they become more serious. If your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your primary care doctor for a more full-body evaluation.