Beating Bad Breath: Strategies for Sweet-Smelling Success
Ever been trapped in a conversation with someone with breath so bad that you spend the whole time searching for an escape? Or maybe you notice people are trying to cut conversations short with you.
Many people suffer from halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath. Some people have it and don’t even know it. Overall, some 65 percent of Americans are estimated to have bad breath and for 40 million it’s a chronic problem, according to the Washtenaw Dental Society.
So why do some people have minty fresh breath and while others…have, well, anything but? Turns out bad breath can be due to a number of different causes-some are easy to fix, others may be a sign of a bigger problem.
Here’s a list of some common causes along with some solutions that can help you refresh your mouth.
Causes and Cures
- Food. Sticking to a steady diet of garlic and onions? You might want to revise your diet. When you eat foods like onions and garlic they’re actually absorbed into your bloodstream and eventually make their way into your lungs where they are exhaled out in a malodorous cloud. Yuck. And that’s not the only way foods can contribute to an odor problem. Failing to brush and floss to remove all those food particles left behind after your last meal can also cause a smelly buildup that leads to halitosis.
The solution: Eat strong-smelling foods in moderation and always brush to remove those pesky food particles before they have time to cause a problem.
- Smoking. You already know you should quit smoking because it raises your risk of health conditions such as lung cancer, mouth cancer, heart attacks and stroke. Here’s another to add to your list-bad breath. Those cigarettes not only cause your breath to smell like an ashtray, but it can actually change your body’s digestion, creating a sour smell in your mouth, according to Delta Dental.
The solution: This one is simple-quit smoking and using tobacco products.
- Poor dental hygiene. We already talked about how food particles can stay behind and cause odor if you don’t brush, and that’s not the only problem poor dental hygiene can cause. Failing to brush and floss properly can let a sticky substance called plaque build up on your teeth, which can lead to gum disease, which is another cause of bad breath. The tongue can also be another source of foul odors. Like your teeth it needs a regular scrubbing to get rid of leftover food and bacteria. Proper cleaning is also important if you wear dentures, which can cause odors just like real teeth when they don’t get a thorough wash.
The solution: Brush, brush, brush. Floss, floss, floss. (At least twice a day.)
- Dry mouth. If your mouth often feels more Sahara than sauna, chances are you have an odor problem. Your mouth needs a good flow of saliva to keep it hydrated and clean. At night, your saliva flow slows down, which is why your mouth feels, um, less than fresh in the morning. There are other causes of dry mouth during the day, ranging from certain medications to problems with your saliva-producing glands. If you don’t know the source of the problem, it’s time to pay a visit to your dentist.
The solution: If you suffer from dry mouth, be certain to drink lots of water and stay hydrated to fight the problem.
- Neglecting your dentist. Been awhile since you last visited your dentist? That could be why your breath has taken a turn for the worse. At Charles River Dental we provide our patients with the tools they need to maintain a fresh-smelling mouth, such as regular deep cleanings to remove odor-causing build up. We are also trained to spot those deeper underlying problems that may be causing your halitosis.
The solution: Don’t skip those dental appointments. You need to visit the dentist at least twice a year, sometimes more often if you have dental conditions that require more attention.
The moral of the story when it comes to bad breath, is that it’s not something you should ignore. In most cases, it is something you can take care of easily, by skipping that onion-heavy sandwich or brushing more frequently. In other cases it’s a tip off that it’s time to pay a visit to your dentist to find a solution to your problem.