Have you ever been told by a close friend or family member that your breath stinks? It’s a pretty embarrassing situation to be in, but the presence of bad breath on a regular basis can be a sign of problems that are deeper than just garlic or onions.
Bad breath, often referred to as halitosis, can have many different causes, and some of them could end up affecting your oral health (and therefore overall health) in the long term. Let’s take a look at some of these causes, as well as methods for preventing the plague of bad breath.
Dental Hygiene Habits. If you aren’t quite as dedicated to your dental hygiene routine as you should be, you could fall victim to stinky breath. When you don’t brush and floss every day, bits of food stay in your mouth, causing odor. These food particles are bacteria’s favorite snack, and over time, inconsistent oral hygiene habits can open the door to gum disease and tooth decay.
Your teeth and gums aren’t the only things in your mouth that need to be cleaned. Frequently your tongue gets overlooked, but it can also harbor bacteria that causes bad breath. Be sure to give your tongue a thorough scrub whenever you brush your teeth.
As you probably know, the recommended basic routine for good oral hygiene is brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, twice daily, and flossing between teeth once a day. You can also look into other products that help to freshen breath, such as mouthwash, electric toothbrushes, and sugar-free gum.
Dry Mouth. You know sometimes when you wake up, and your first thought is to go brush your teeth to get rid of your stinky morning breath? Well, that morning breath is actually caused by dry mouth. While you’re sleeping, your saliva production decreases, and this problem is exacerbated if you sleep with your mouth open.
Nighttime dryness is common for lots of people, but if you start to have dry mouth that causes bad breath frequently during the day, it could point to problems. Chronic dry mouth can be caused by a problem with your salivary glands and some diseases. Many medications on the market today list dry mouth as one of the side effects, so your medication(s) could also be a contributing factor in persistent bad breath.
You can help fight the effects of dry mouth by staying hydrated throughout the day or asking your dentist about oral moisturizers or saliva substitutes.
Oral Health Issues. If neither of the causes above sound like the reason for your breath issues, the cause might lie in a different condition in the mouth or throat. According to the Mayo Clinic, bad breath can occasionally stem from small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odor. Any condition that causes post nasal drip, such as sinus issues, can also contribute to odor in the throat and mouth.
If your bad breath continues despite staying diligent with your dental hygiene regimen, keeping your mouth hydrated, and being in seemingly good health, it might be time to consult your dentist. There are some other health conditions that can cause a distinct smell in the mouth, and your dentist might be the first health care professional to detect them.
Otherwise, brush and floss your teeth, and keep some sugar-free gum on hand!