Bad breath can happen to anyone. Over 50 percent of adults report having had bad breath, also known as halitosis, at some point in their lives. But what causes bad breath and what can we do to prevent it?
There are a number of reasons you may have bad breath. Although most are harmless, some of these causes can be signs of something more serious. Below are just a few of the causes of bad breath and what you can do about them.
What Can I Do About Bad Breath?
Our mouths are full of bacteria. Don’t worry though-most of it is harmless. These bacteria live in your mouth since it’s almost like a natural hothouse that allows them to flourish. When you eat, bacteria feed on the bits of food left in your mouth. This process leaves a foul-smelling waste product which is one of the causes of bad breath.
Brushing twice daily and flossing between your teeth every day will help kill the bacteria in your mouth that cause bad breath. Over-the-counter mouthwashes kill some of the bacteria that cause bad breath but they really only temporarily mask it. The longer you wait between brushing and flossing, the more likely it is that your breath will become offensive.
Your mouth may not be producing enough saliva leaving it dry. Saliva is necessary because it is constantly washing out your mouth. If your mouth isn’t making enough saliva, it is likely that your mouth and your teeth aren’t being naturally flushed as much as they should be. Dry mouth can be brought on as a side effect of certain medications, by untreated salivary gland issues or by breathing through your mouth. Keeping your body properly hydrated is crucial to preventing dry mouth. Doctors advise drinking at least 2 liters of water, or eight 8 fluid ounce bottles per day to prevent dehydration.
Eating healthy foods that require a lot of chewing, like carrots or apples, and staying hydrated will help keep enough saliva in your mouth. You can also chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candies to help moisten your dry mouth. Your dentist may even suggest artificial saliva if these quick fixes do not help.
Persistent bad breath that won’t go away or a constant bad taste in your mouth can be indicative of advanced gum disease. Gum disease is when the bacteria form a clear sticky film called plaque between your teeth and along your gum line. Plaque causes your gums to become infected which can cause an abscess to form which can produce an odor.
Smoking and Tobacco Use
Smoking not only gives you bad breath, this habit 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 blunts your sense of taste and irritates gum tissues. Since smoking also reduces your sense of smell, many smokers may not be aware of how bad their breath smells. Letting go of this bad habit is good for your entire body. Not only will your breath be fresher but your risk of cancer and heart disease will go down and you’ll breathe easier and have a better quality of life.
While it makes logical sense that gum disease and other mouth infections can cause bad breath, other medical conditions could also be the culprit. If you brush and floss as recommended and your dentist has ruled out other dental or oral health issues such as an abscess, your halitosis could be the result of another somatic issue. Common bad breath-causing problems include sinus conditions, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. If your dentist cannot find the cause, see your medical doctor as soon as possible.
Schedule Regular Appointments With Your Dentist
If you’re in the Annapolis MD area and you’re concerned about what might be causing your bad breath, schedule an appointment to see Dr. Vernon Sheen. Regular check-ups will help your Dr. Sheen 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 need to see your healthcare provider. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Sheen, call 609.365.0673 or make an appointment online.