Anyone who has ever had halitosis (commonly referred to as bad breath) knows that not-so-fresh feeling in their mouth. Perhaps someone has awkwardly offered you some gum while holding their breath. When you wake up in the morning, maybe your teeth feel fuzzy and your mouth feels dry. Sometimes you catch a whiff of your child’s breath after a day of snacking and it makes you want to fall over. Everyone has experienced halitosis at one point or another, during their lifetime, so you are not alone. Bad breath is not pleasant to experience in yourself or from others. It’s helpful to uncover the underlying causes and learn how to fix the problem. So, what causes halitosis? How can you treat it and perhaps even prevent it?
What causes halitosis (bad breath)?
Unfortunately, we’re all genetically predisposed to having bad breath. We’re sorry to share the bad news, but without proper oral care, everyone everywhere will have halitosis. There are many, many contributing factors to this—food, oral bacteria, plaque, smoking, dry mouth and dehydration, certain medications, braces or other oral appliances, and some diseases or illnesses. All of these things are what causes bad breath. Sadly, it’s fairly unavoidable, but there are ways to keep it at bay and help prevent it.
How to prevent halitosis
Practice regular oral hygiene routine. Probably the most effective methods of preventing bad breath are brushing and flossing. If allowed to build up in the crevices of your teeth, bad bacteria will start to aid in your mouth’s unpleasant aroma. Mints and chewing gum are no replacement for good dental habits.So, building good oral hygiene habits into your daily life will keep halitosis at bay.
- Rinse with antiseptic mouthwash. An added layer of protection between you and bad breath is mouthwash. Make sure it is an antiseptic mouthwash that will help to kill the germs that make your breath “un-friendly.”
- Drink more water. One more reason for drinking more water is that it helps keep your mouth moisturized and less appealing to odor-causing bacteria. Halitosis is a byproduct of those bacteria that like to stick to the surfaces of your mouth when it is dry. Drinking water helps makes those surfaces inhospitable for bacteria.
- Stop smoking. You have heard it time and time again. Calling it quits has instant health benefits, and freshens your breath too! We have some great tips, so ask us for help.
- Eat these foods. It’s true that there are foods that will help to keep halitosis under control, because for one reason or another, they have properties that fight bad breath. Consider eating more apples, drinking green tea, or adding cherries to your snack. Add some parsley to your meal, drink a glass of whole milk, and eat more spinach—it’s a super food too. Add some lettuce to your sandwich, or eat a salad. Eat some probiotic-laden yogurt, and keep citrus fruits on-hand. Basil, spearmint, cinnamon, and other herbs and spices can aid you in fighting bad breath, too. All of these foods have halitosis-fighting properties and are great for your entire body too.
- Avoid these foods. Common sense can direct you away from foods that will cause “dragon breath.” Foods containing lots of garlic, onions, and certain herbs or seasonings can cause halitosis long after you’ve eaten them. Once they are broken down and enter your bloodstream, they can continue to cause bad breath.
- Clean your tongue. This often-overlooked part of our mouth is a breeding ground for all kinds of yucky bacteria, and brushing or scraping your tongue can go a long way in keeping your breath fresher. Use a toothbrush or tongue scraper to clear away the white or brown coating that can collect there. That coating can harbor lots of unpleasant germs that can literally push people away.
- Schedule a dental check-up. Scheduling and keeping regular dental check-ups will help to identify any issues that may be causing halitosis, and help to prevent the build-up of bad bacteria in your mouth. If you are unsure where to start with finding a dentist, start with searching for a “dentist near me” and use our tips for narrowing the field. Persistent bad breath could be a symptom of a bigger problem, and visiting your nearby dentist will help keep those bigger problems from sneaking up on you.
Normal attention to and care of your teeth can go a long way in preventing awkward situations concerning your breath. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing help rid your mouth of your average halitosis-causing bacteria on a daily basis. And we can’t stress enough the importance of visiting your dentist on a semi-annual basis. Allowing us to know you and your teeth will often help us catch problems before they actually become problems.