Ever feel like everyone can smell your bad breath – even when you can’t? If you’re struggling with halitosis, you’re not alone. Studies show that 1 in 4 people suffer from occasional or chronic bad breath. The good news is that you can do plenty of things to freshen up your breath and keep it smelling its best. Here’s what you need to know about bad breath and how to combat it.
What Causes Bad Breath?
There are many causes of bad breath, but poor oral hygiene is the most common culprit.
Poor Oral Hygiene
When food particles and bacteria are allowed to build up on your teeth and tongue, they can cause your breath to become stale and odorous. Additionally, these bacteria can cause gum disease, which can also lead to bad breath.
Many Americans smoke, and it’s estimated that about 30 million adults in the country do it almost daily. Cigarettes and other nicotine-based products can cause bad breath by drying your mouth and staining your teeth. Additionally, nicotine is a chemical that has a strong, distinct smell that can linger on your breath long after you’ve put out your cigarette.
What you eat can also affect the way your breath smells. Here are some common ingredients that affect the overall quality of your breath:
- Onions: Sulfur in onions can be absorbed into your bloodstream and then expelled through your lungs, causing your breath to smell bad.
- Garlic: Like onions, garlic also contains sulfur. When this sulfur is present in your mouth, it can cause bad breath.
- Coffee and Tea: Coffee and tea are diuretics, making you urinate more frequently. This can lead to dehydration, which can cause bad breath.
- Spicy Foods: Spicy foods can cause bad breath by irritating your gums and teeth. Additionally, the oils in these foods can be difficult to remove from your mouth, leading to further odors.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a diuretic and can contribute to dehydration and bad breath.
A dry mouth can lead to bad breath because it allows bacteria to grow unchecked. When your mouth is dry, less saliva is present to wash away these bacteria.
The drying of the mouth can be caused by:
- Mouth breathing
Certain medical conditions can also cause bad breath. These include:
- Ketoacidosis: This is a condition that can occur in people with diabetes. It’s caused by a build-up of ketones in the body, which can be expelled through the breath, causing bad breath.
- Liver disease: Liver disease can cause a build-up of toxins in the body, which can be expelled through the breath, causing bad breath.
- Kidney disease: Kidney disease can also cause a build-up of toxins in the body, which can be expelled through the breath, causing bad breath.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): It’s a condition in which stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. It can cause bad breath because the acid can travel to the throat and mouth, where it can break down food and cause smells.
Lastly, the gap between your teeth can cause bad breath. When you have missing teeth, food particles can become trapped in these spaces and lead to odors. Additionally, the gums around these teeth can become inflamed, which can also cause bad breath.
How Can I Combat Bad Breath?
Dealing with your missing teeth is one way to ensure that bacteria don’t grow in dangerous numbers inside your mouth. One way to deal with missing teeth is by getting tooth implants. These implants are made of titanium which is then inserted into your jawbone. Once the implant has healed, a false tooth is placed on top. Not only does this give you back your smile, but it also prevents bacteria from being able to grow in the gaps left by your missing teeth. Titanium has also been known to be resistant to bacteria, making it a suitable material for preventing halitosis.
If you smoke, one of the best things you can do for your breath is to quit. Cigarettes cause bad breath and increase your risk of developing gum disease. If you’re having trouble quitting, many resources are available to help you, including nicotine replacement therapy and counseling.
Stimulate Saliva Production
As we mentioned before, saliva is your mouth’s natural way of washing away bacteria. Therefore, stimulating saliva production can help to combat bad breath. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Chew sugar-free gum: Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva, which can help to wash away bacteria and food particles.
- Drink plenty of water: Drinking water also helps to stimulate saliva production. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you suffer from dry mouth.
- Avoid mouthwash with alcohol: Mouthwashes that contain alcohol can contribute to dry mouth and make bad breath worse. Instead, look for a mouthwash that contains fluoride or xylitol, which can help to fight bacteria.
Bad breath is something you don’t want to have chronically. Knowing the causes of bad breath can help you to avoid it. Additionally, there are many things you can do to combat bad breath, which can stop it before it gets worse.