While some people are plagued by bad breath more than others, no one wants to be known for having a stinky mouth. Bad breath, which is medically known as halitosis, can be caused by a variety of factors. Most causes of bad breath have simple solutions, which you can put into practice on your own. Sometimes, halitosis can be an indicator of a much more serious health problem. We’ll look at some of the causes of bad breath and what you can do to fight back.
You are what you eat…
…and sometimes, you smell like it! One of the primary causes of bad breath, and simplest to combat, deals with your dietary habits. Certain foods with strong odors, such as garlic, onions, and other spices can have a profound impact on how your breath smells. Luckily, you have a few options for dealing with culinary culprits.
Brushing and flossing after a meal will loosen leftover food bits from smelly foods, allowing you to remove them – and their odors – from your mouth. If you are unable to brush or floss after a meal, swishing with mouthwash or even water can help to eliminate food particles as well. However, keep in mind that pungent foods, such as garlic, are absorbed by the body just like any other foods. While these foods are in your bloodstream, you breathe them out through your lungs. Unfortunately, brushing or flossing will not have much effect on your respiratory system. With this in mind, if you are very concerned about your breath making an impression on an interview or a date, it may be best to avoid stinky foods altogether before the event.
It’s not just smelly foods
While foods with strong odors are the worst culprits when it comes to bad breath, all foods can have an impact on the way your mouth smells. This is because smelly bacteria in your mouth feed off of the sugars from leftover food, which tends to stick around long after lunch. Foods which are highest in starches and sugars – such as candy or breads – tend to be the worst culprits for providing a smorgasbord for bacteria. Being armed with this information can help you to make smarter choices when it comes to your breath and general health.
If you’ve ever smoked a cigarette or tried smokeless tobacco before, you are familiar with the distasteful flavor these products can leave behind in your mouth. Not only do tobacco products taste bad and cause cancer, they smell pretty unpleasant on the breath as well. Furthermore, the use of tobacco can lead to gum disease, which makes oral odors even worse. Tobacco is definitely one of the biggest offenders when it comes to breathing out unpleasant smells!
We urge you to end the habit immediately if you are using tobacco, or the sake of your breath and your health in general. And, I’ve you’ve never been a tobacco user, never start! While you are kicking carcinogens to the curb, be sure to keep up with your healthy habits, such as brushing, flossing, and drinking water regularly. Sugarless gum may keep your breath fresh as well and, studies show, it may help you to control the urge to smoke.
Avoiding the dry-mouth doldrums
Another benefit of sugarless gum is that the act of chewing helps you to increase your saliva flow. When the mouth is dry, there is less saliva to wash odor-causing food particles and debris from your palette. Several factors, such as increased caffeine intake, certain medications, and even medical conditions as simple as colds can impact your saliva flow and leave your mouth dryer.
Aside from trying out sugar-free gum, patients with dry mouths can also benefit by increasing their water intake and decreasing their caffeine intake. These two actions help the body to remain hydrated, which is necessary to maintain a healthy flow of saliva. Check in with your MD if you experience chronic dry mouth due to environmental factors, medication, or your own body chemistry.
More serious culprits
Sometimes, bad breath can be attributed to more serious issues than occasionally forgetting to brush or eating pungent foods. Chronic bad breath can be a symptom of a variety of dental problems and other illnesses, including gum disease, diabetes, bronchitis, and liver or kidney diseases. If you believe that there may be a more serious factor behind the problems you are experiencing with your breath, see your dentist or doctor for an exam. Even if you are not regularly affected by bad breath, regular dental cleanings can help you remain clear of this uncomfortable problem!