Everyone experiences bad breath at one time or another, and many people suffer from chronic bad breath. My Guest Poster this week offers the reasons and solutions for that pesky problem. I am so pleased to have Darla Scheidt from Grove Dental Associates share her expertise.
If you are one of the 80 million Americans suffering from bad breath, then you know just how embarrassing it can be. Clinically known as halitosis, chronic bad breath can wreak havoc on one’s self-esteem, close friendships and professional life. But the good news is that you don’t have to live with it. Consider the following causes of halitosis as well as tips to restore your fresh breath — and self-confidence — once and for all.
What’s causing your bad breath?
Many factors can trigger bad breath with the most common being improper or infrequent brushing and flossing. Bad breath typically originates in the mouth due to bacterial buildup. As the bacteria multiply on the tongue, teeth and gums, it emits foul odors that result in unpleasant breath.
The first step to keeping bad breath at bay is to identify the cause, which may include one or more of the following.
- Poor oral hygiene. Most cases of bad breath are caused by poor oral hygiene. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth after every meal, pieces of food can collect between your teeth and around your gums and tongue to foster bacteria that produces unpleasant odors. Brushing and flossing daily is the best way to reduce the amount of food particles that linger in your mouth and cause bad breath.
- Gum disease. Persistent bad breath can also be an early sign for gum disease, which is caused by plaque — a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. Because gum disease can cause serious health problems, including pain, bone loss and tooth loss, it’s important to understand other warning signs and discuss them with your dentist.
- Tobacco use. As if using tobacco didn’t already cause enough harm to one’s overall health, smoking and other tobacco products can cause foul-smelling mouth odor. In addition to unpleasant smoker’s breath, tobacco use can increase your risk of dry mouth, gum disease and other oral infections—all of which cause bad breath and lead to other health problems.
- Foods. Certain beverages and foods, like garlic, onions, alcohol and coffee, are more powerful smelling than others and commonly produce unpleasant breath for several hours after ingestion.
- Dry mouth. Your mouth requires saliva to rinse away debris left behind after a meal. Otherwise, when your mouth is too dry, food particles and bacteria will linger on your teeth and gums, leading to dental problems that contribute to bad breath. Because saliva production is reduced during sleep, many people experience “morning breath” upon waking each day.
- Medical conditions. A person’s bad breath is not always the result of bacteria buildup. In some cases it can be a symptom of an illness such as chronic sinus infections, diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, bronchitis, or liver or kidney ailments. To improve bad breath, your physician should first address the underlying illness.
Tips to improve bad breath
In many cases, halitosis can be remedied by making simple lifestyle changes. In addition to a diligent oral hygiene regimen, there are many easy ways to eliminate bad breath including the following.
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating to remove food debris and bacteria.
- Chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production, which naturally rinses away odor-causing bacteria.
- Snack on crisp, healthy foods, like celery, carrots or apples, which cleanse teeth and loosen food particles from between teeth.
- Brush your tongue as a part of your daily oral hygiene.
- Identify and avoid foods that trigger your bad breath.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth moist and clean, especially if you already suffer from dry mouth.
- If you wear dentures, removable braces or bridges, clean them thoroughly at least once a day.
- Brush your teeth after every meal for at least two minutes.
- Keep a portable toothbrush on hand throughout the day to keep breath fresh at work or when out with friends.
- Don’t forget to floss at least once a day as an essential way to remove hard-to-reach food particles from between teeth.
- If you smoke or use other tobacco products, take steps to quit as an important means to get rid of bad breath and improve your health.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a professional exam and cleaning.
Tired of popping mints and avoiding friends? You don’t have to live with halitosis. Start by identifying the culprit of your bad breath, improving your oral hygiene and making necessary lifestyle changes for fresher breath. If your halitosis persists, even after taking steps to eliminate it, talk to your dentist for an assessment of your breath’s origin. Your unpleasant breath could be a sign of something other than poor oral hygiene or bad habits.
Darla Scheidt works at Grove Dental Associates as the Marketing Director. Grove Dental is a multi-specialty group dental practice in the Western suburbs of Chicago. With over 30 doctors and in business for over 40 years, Grove Dental’s offices stay on the cutting edge of the dental industry.