Bad breath can be embarrassing and debilitating in social situations. There are actually many causes of halitosis, all of which can be treated. The best part is that bad breath can also be easily prevented. We’ll delve into what you can do about bad breath.
We can all get bad breath. In fact, it’s incredibly common, with 50% of adults having halitosis at some point in their lives. We’ve all been in that situation: you’re on a date or in a meeting, but you don’t want to get too close to someone’s face for fear that they’ll smell your breath. But did you know there’s something you can do about it?
What Is Halitosis?
Halitosis is a bad odour in the mouth. Symptoms can also include a coating on the tongue, a dry mouth or an unpleasant taste. Others may notice if you have bad breath before you do, but not everyone will be comfortable with breaking the news. The simplest way to tell whether you have bad breath is to lick your hand, wait for it to dry and then smell it (you may wish to do this in a private place). If it’s unpleasant, you may be suffering from halitosis. There are many causes of bad breath, but fortunately, there is plenty you can do about it.
The Causes of Bad Breath
Most causes of bad breath are relatively harmless, but that won’t necessarily stop you from worrying. Having bad breath can significantly influence the impression we make on others and can make for awkward social situations. Here are the leading causes of bad breath, complete with helpful solutions.
Tobacco and Smoking
Smoking or chewing tobacco can cause bad breath by leaving chemicals that remain in the mouth. Not only that, but smoking can also cause gum disease, which can create additional trouble for your teeth, mouth, and body.
The solution: quitting smoking will benefit your whole body, but one of the immediate effects you’ll notice after smoking cessation is better smelling breath and improved taste buds. In fact, this takes just days.
Poor Dental Hygiene
If you don’t brush or floss your teeth and gums regularly, leftover food in the mouth can rot, causing bad breath. Poor oral hygiene can lead to a buildup of plaque, leading to halitosis or in other cases, periodontal (gum) disease or its milder form: gingivitis.
The solution: You should be brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day. Also, don’t forget to brush the tongue. The tongue can accumulate a lot of bacteria that could be causing a foul smell, so brushing away any coating on the tongue will solve this problem. Many toothbrushes have scrapers on the back, or you can use a dedicated scraper to remove the film on your tongue. If you’re concerned about your oral health habits, you should visit your dentist. You’ll be able to talk to a dental hygienist who can give you advice about your oral habits.
It could be that the cause of your bad breath is an infected tooth – such as a cavity – or gum disease. Halitosis can also be caused by an abscess at the root, which left untreated, can spread to the bones supporting the tooth. Many infections will be accompanied by other symptoms, such as discomfort, redness or swelling.
The solution: Even if you aren’t suffering from a toothache, it’s recommended that you visit your dentist on a regular basis. They will be able to give you a full checkup and advice on your oral health, including whether you’re taking the right steps to prevent bad breath. If an infected tooth is the cause, they’ll also be able to treat it.
Not Feeling Well?
Some illnesses and infections can present bad breath. These include sinus infections, sore throat, acid reflux and other stomach and throat infections. While treating the cause with antibiotics will do the trick, it can still be annoying and cause you discomfort in social situations.
The solution: In this case, maintaining a good oral health routine will help reduce the impact of bad breath until the infection clears up.
If you’re already on medication for a current condition, dry mouth can be a common side effect. These include antihistamines and diuretics (which reduce the amount of water in the body). If you’re concerned that your medication may be contributing to your bad breath, it’s worthwhile visiting your doctor who may be able to change your medication.
What Preventative Measures I Can Take?
Nobody likes having bad breath as it’s an uncomfortable situation for everyone. Fortunately, there are plenty of actions you take to reduce your chance of halitosis.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water is great for your overall health, but can improve your oral health, too. Water will keep your mouth moist and stimulate the production of saliva, preventing dry mouth – one of the main symptoms of halitosis.
Watch What You Eat
Food is a primary source of bad odour. We know that food such as garlic and onions can cause bad breath, but even some cheeses, fish and beverages such as coffee can cause an unpleasant, lingering smell. Much of the time, these odours are temporary, and can be removed by thoroughly brushing your teeth and tongue. This will also make sure that any food stuck in your teeth won’t cause an odour, as it causes bacteria to grow. These odours may be short-lived, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you were thinking of having a cheese and onion sandwich for lunch before that special date!
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
It’s good practice to schedule regular visits with your dentist – every 6 months — and additional visits if you’re experiencing pain or other symptoms. A dental hygienist can help you with your oral health routine, while experienced periodontists will check for gum disease, which is increasingly common. It may be that your condition can be easily treated, but the sooner you visit your dentist, the sooner you’ll be able to begin gum disease treatment if needed.
Taking care of your teeth is crucial. They play a vital role in the impressions people make of us. Bad breath can be embarrassing, but if the cause is an infected tooth, letting it get out of hand can cause lasting consequences on the rest of your body. Why let bad breath hinder you any longer?