Have you been on a date, or simply hanging with friends and gotten a whiff of malodor from someone’s mouth? Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, affects over 50 percent of the population; most likely all of us have noticed bad breath at one point or another.
If you or someone you know is afflicted with bad breath, the first step is understanding the causes of bad breath and then tackling it with solutions. Just like with most things in life, bad breath follows a cause and effect relationship.
Bacteria: These tiny little bugs are the reason for many unwanted conditions including bad breath! The presence of food in our mouth is also an energy source for bad bacteria, which will then break down this food and produce a foul-smelling by-product. When this food is not removed for a long period of time, it hardens into tartar (also known as calculus) and can start to cause gum disease. A strong mal-odor is sometimes found in patients with gum disease.
Dry mouth: It is important to keep your saliva flowing if you want to avoid bad breath, gum disease and cavities. Saliva has a basic PH, and helps neutralize the acidic effects of bacteria in our mouth. Antidepressants, antihistamines as well as numerous other medications are notorious for causing dry mouth. If you are taking any medications, whether it is over the counter or prescribed by a medical professional, be sure to ask your physician or dentist about the side effects. Smoking is another big indirect cause of bad breath, as it leads to dry mouth.
Now that we know the main causes of Bad breath, here’s how to tackle this foul smelling odor. Some of these practices may be obvious, but are worth mentioning;
- Brush your teeth: Mechanically removing food from your mouth after meals will make a huge difference.
- Floss: Many people skip this step after they brush. Next time you brush your teeth, floss right after! You’ll be surprised to see the amount of food still present in between your teeth even after a thorough brushing session. Bacteria are notorious for thriving in between our teeth and love to eat on this food source.
- Clean your tongue: This is a commonly missed step as well. Scraping or brushing your tongue to remove food and bacteria is crucial in fighting bad breath.
- Oral rinse(mouthwash): Finish off your oral hygiene routine with an oral rinse to fight off any remaining bacteria. Studies show that using an oral rinse in combination with brushing and flossing decreased bad breath and presence of cavities.
- If you have dry mouth, drink plenty of water. Chewing on sugar free, xylitol gum can increase salivary flow as well. In severe cases, your dentist can prescribe medication to increase salivary flow.
Hope this article gave you some helpful tips to prevent bad breath. Please feel free to leave comments, and questions below!