THERE’S NOTHING WORSE than being in the middle of a social situation and suddenly realizing - whether from someone wincing or cupping their mouth when you speak- that you may have bad breath. You may even catch a whiff of your own breath. Whether it’s a first date or a job interview, having bad breath can really take you out of the moment and become self-conscious. But why does this happen?
How Bad Breath Works
Sometimes bad breath is the temporary result of eating a particularly pungent meal. Bacteria in our mouths break down leftover food particles, resulting in unpleasant smells. Simple dental hygiene practices like daily flossing, twice-daily brushing, tongue-cleaning, and chewing sugar-free gum will minimize the bad breath effect of food. But some struggle with a more chronic form of bad breath, also called halitosis. Halitosis can be caused by a variety of factors and isn’t always easy to get rid of:
Tooth decay and gum disease. Cavities and periodontitis are both caused by the bacteria that produce nasty-smelling chemicals, so poor dental health and halitosis often go hand-in-hand.
Medications. Many medications can cause dry mouth, and dry mouth leads to a host of oral health problems including halitosis because there isn’t enough saliva to wash away food and neutralize acids.
Mouth, nose, and throat infections. Infections that cause an increase in mucous can also increase the amount of oral bacteria and contribute to bad breath.
Tobacco products. No matter what form it comes in, tobacco leaves smelly chemicals in the mouth and can cause dry mouth. It also increase the risk of gum disease or oral cancer, which are other causes of bad breath.
Pregnancy. Pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and morning sickness can cause bad breath, as can eating disorders like bulimia.
Mouth-breathing. Breathing through the mouth dries out saliva and leads to all the usual problems of dry mouth, including bad breath.
Chronic conditions. In some cases, bad breath can be linked to conditions that have little to do with your oral hygiene, such as acid reflux, diabetes, or liver or kidney disease.
How To Stay Minty Fresh
The first defense against halitosis is your regular oral hygiene habits. Brushing, flossing, and cleaning the tongue all help get rid of smelly plaque and bacteria lingering in the crevices between and around teeth. Sugar-free gum and mints are great solutions for when you’re on the go (but they aren’t substitutes for brushing and flossing). Quitting smoking will also eliminate a major source of bad breath. If you’re in the habit of breathing through your mouth, try to breathe through your nose more. Come in for your exam & cleaning regularly and that means at least every 6 months. Your dentist can spot and treat problem areas before they worsen and your hygienist can remove tartar build up that can harbor bacteria and prevent the onset of gum disease.
Come See Us
If you’re still struggling with halitosis even when maintaining an impeccable dental hygiene regimen, there’s no reason to suffer in silence. Schedule an appointment with us so that we can discover the cause. We want to help you stay healthy and confident!