Banish Bad Breath
Halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath, can be an embarrassing problem.
What Causes Bad Breath?
- Poor oral hygiene. If you don't properly clean your teeth, gums and tongue, particles of food and bacteria left in your mouth can irritate the gums and cause an unpleasant odor.
- The foods you eat. Certain foods like garlic and onions can cause bad breath because they contain pungent oils that are carried to your lungs and out your mouth.
- Dry mouth. Saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth and remove odor-causing particles. A condition called xerostomia (dry mouth) occurs when the flow of saliva is decreased and can result in bad breath. Some of the causes of dry mouth include: certain medications, salivary gland problems, cancer therapy, tobacco use or heavy use of e-cigarettes/vaping.
- Tobacco. Smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco not only cause bad breath, but can also stain your teeth, irritate your gums, and reduce your ability to taste foods. In addition, smoking, the use of smokeless tobacco products and/or e-cigarettes/vaping also increases the risk of oral cancer.
- Gum disease. Persistent bad breath and bleeding gums can be a warning sign of periodontal (gum) disease.
- Medical disorder. Bad breath could be a sign of a medical disorder, such as infection of the respiratory tract, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance or a liver or kidney problem.
Do I Need To Use a Mouthwash or Rinse?
Some antiseptic mouth rinses have exhibited therapeutic benefits in reducing plaque and gingivitis (gum disease). However, many mouthwashes or rinses are cosmetic and while these can be used to freshen breath, they do not generally have a long-lasting effect on bad breath. If you choose to use a mouth rinse, look for an over-the- counter antiseptic mouthwash.
When using these products, be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle. They should not be swallowed. If you find that you are constantly using a mouth rinse to mask odor, see your dentist.
Besides keeping your teeth, gums and tongue clean and healthy, here are some other remedies that may help successfully treat bad breath.
- Quit smoking, using smokeless tobacco and/or e-cigarettes/vaping. Kicking the habit will go a long way in improving bad breath and your overall health.
- If you wear dentures or removable appliances, be sure to remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them in your mouth.
- If you are experiencing problems with dry mouth, your dentist or physician may prescribe artificial saliva. Other possible ways to relieve dry mouth symptoms include increasing your salivary flow by sucking on ice chips or sugar free candy, or chewing sugar free gum. In addition, you can try sipping on water during the day and increasing your fluid intake at meals.
- Visit your dentist for regular exams, cleanings and any necessary follow-up appointments.
Good Dental Habits Can Banish Bad Breath
In most cases, embarrassing bad breath can be prevented by good oral hygiene.
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day to remove food debris and plaque.
- Use floss daily to remove any plaque and food particles trapped between teeth. When left in the mouth, they can cause bad breath as well as decay.
- Your tongue can harbor odor-causing bacteria. Be sure to brush your tongue with a toothbrush or clean it with a tongue scraper.
- Visit your dentist for regular checkups. Professional cleanings will help to get rid of plaque and bacteria buildup that may contribute to bad breath. Your dentist may also be able to determine the source of persistent bad breath and formulate a plan for.
Note: The information in this document is not meant to replace the advice of your dentist or another licensed healthcare professional. Talk to your dentist for any specific dental advice.