We’ve all experienced bad breath, whether from family members, friends, co-workers or even ourselves. Halitosis—the medical term for bad breath— is an extremely common oral health issue that affects most of the world. Despite being so common, many of those who suffer from bad breath have no idea it’s an issue until someone tells them, which can be an awkward conversation.
So how do we stop this from happening?
While bad breath can be easily helped by simply taking care of your mouth and practicing routine oral maintenance, there are a lot of ineffective treatments out there. Many of the products marketed to the public—mouthrinses, breath mints, gum, tongue strips—claim to cure halitosis. They may reduce bad breath, but these are only surface-level solutions to a deeper problem. To truly rid yourself of bad breath, you’ll need to treat the underlying conditions that typically cause the condition.
What causes bad breath?
There are a handful of common practices associated with treating halitosis, but let’s break down some of the most common causes.
- Dental Hygiene Habits: Approximately 85% of bad breath comes from inside the mouth. Therefore, you should take a close look at your brushing and flossing routine. If you’re skipping out on these daily practices, you’re letting bacteria form that eat leftover food particles in the mouth, creating the unpleasant smell associated with bad breath.
- Foods: While only temporary, halitosis can arise by eating certain types of foods. Ingredients like garlic, radish, pickles, and onions have odorous chemical compounds that are absorbed into your bloodstream and released in exhalation.
- Dry Mouth: When you’re dehydrated, your mouth is deprived of the saliva or water that help to eliminate bacteria and wash away food particles. Saliva’s unique proteins and minerals guard our mouths from this bacteria, which is known to cause bad breath.
- Alcohol & Tobacco: Often causing dry mouth—and therefore halitosis—we’ve identified alcohol and tobacco as key substances you should avoid to treat bad breath, particularly since they cause volatile compounds to be absorbed into your bloodstream.
How to Treat Bad Breath
The good news is that bad breath is completely treatable and avoidable if you follow these steps. As with oral health in general, the key to improving lies in consistency. Use these tips below to fight the battle against bad breath.
- Brush & Floss More: As we know, brushing and flossing twice daily is the standard routine to remove plaque and bacteria left over from food particles. If you want to reduce bad breath, try repeating the process more often. However, be careful with how hard you brush or floss. Too much force or abrasion can wear down enamel, making them more susceptible.
- Stop Smoking: In addition to other major health concerns, inhaling or chewing tobacco in any form is harmful to your teeth and gums. Both the chemical makeup of tobacco products as well as its role in dehydration play significant roles in bad breath.
- Skip the Sugar: Sugar is bacteria’s favorite food. When sugar is consumed by bacteria, it leaves behind acid that directly causes bad breath. Try chewing sugarless gum to activate your saliva and naturally defend against these acids.
- Rinse & Repeat: In addition to just feeling “refreshed,” a good mouthrinse that protects your mouth by killing germs that cause bad breath. Make sure you’re using a rinse that is ADA approved and powerful enough to eliminate bacteria, not just mask the smell. Check out our list of recommended dental products!
- Scrape Your Tongue: Much of the bacteria that creates bad breath gathers on your tongue, forming in a thin coating that can be removed. Use your toothbrush or a scraper to remove food particles and dead cells.
- Avoid Trigger Foods: Unfortunately, just brushing after eating doesn’t always help reduce bad breath. If you’re experiencing halitosis, we recommend avoiding foods like garlic and onions all together. Like we mentioned above, these foods contain substances that smell bad when captured in your bloodstream and exhaled from your lungs.
The bottom line is bad breath happens to all of us, so don’t worry or feel self-conscious about it. The good news is that it’s treatable! While it might be a bit embarrassing to talk about or come to terms with, most of the time halitosis is reversible with a few changes in your daily routine and decisions.
If you’re concerned about a persistent case of halitosis or you’d like a more thorough analysis of your oral health, please contact Dental Arts or give us a call at (504) 394-5330. Our staff of experts is standing by to address any potential issues and discuss a plan for you. Let us help you find your path to fantastic oral health!
Dental Arts is a full-service general dentistry and orthodontic practice for the entire family. For more than three decades, we have been providing the highest quality dental and orthodontic care available to the residents of New Orleans. Explore the Dental Arts difference and schedule a consultation today.