Here’s What May Be Causing Your Bad Breath
Bad breath, known clinically as halitosis, affects most people at some point or another. However, it becomes a bigger issue when bad breath just refuses to go away. Bad breath does not come out of thin air, and there is probably a logical reason for what is causing it. Read on to learn the causes of bad breath and how to treat it.
It’s All About Bacteria
The short answer about bad breath is that it really comes down to bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria are often the reason for bad breath, but what causes the bacteria to thrive in the first place may come from a variety of sources.
Food and Oral Health
Food and oral health can be something of a Catch-22. Everyday things like eating, talking, and kissing can expose our mouths to a plethora of bacteria. and food can both help and hurt the upkeep of oral hygiene.
If that sounds confusing, it is because food and oral health is a complicated subject.
Certain foods can also make your breath smell like…well, food. It affects some people more than others, but potent food and drink such as garlic, onions, and coffee can heavily impact your breath. Alcohol can affect your breath, as well, depending on the kind and amount you drink. If you want your breath to stay fresh throughout the day, it may be best to avoid potent food and drink.
Not only do certain foods trigger bad breath, but eating irregularly can actually be a contributing factor in halitosis. The American Dental Association has stated that skipping meals can lead to halitosis, and that you should try to eat regularly.
In order to promote a healthy smile, it is important to eat well. The following vitamins and minerals are all great for healthy teeth and gums:
- Calcium – Found in dairy products, some fish, and leafy green vegetables
- Vitamin A – Found in fish, eggs, and orange fruits and vegetables (carrots, mangos, sweet potatoes, etc.)
- B Vitamins – Found in poultry, beans, red meat, and many vegetables
- Iron – Found in red meat and shellfish
- Vitamin C – Restores mouth tissues; found in kale, broccoli, berries, and citrus fruits
- Vitamin D – Helps maintain calcium levels; found in fortified milk and also come from basking in the sunlight
Illness Can Cause Bad Breath
If at-home changes to your dental routine or diet do not fix your bad breath, there may be another issue under the surface. Illnesses such as gum disease can cause bad breath, but even sinus infections and diabetes can cause this problem. Speak to a doctor or dentist if your bad breath persists after making any recommended lifestyle changes.
Brush Up on Good Oral Hygiene Habits
Brushing regularly is always important, regardless of whether you have bad breath or not. However, not brushing regularly or brushing at the wrong times can contribute to bacterial buildup and bad breath. You should brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, preferably after a meal, not before. Brushing after a meal helps get rid of any lingering food debris.
Make sure you brush your tongue as well! While easy to overlook, your tongue is a place where bacteria can easily accumulate and thrive. Brushing for two minutes, scraping your tongue, and flossing will help keep your mouth healthy. Flossing has the extra benefit of removing food debris from between your teeth, which can further prevent bacterial buildup and bad breath.
The Importance of Water
A dry mouth can also cause bacterial buildup, which leads to bad breath. Dry mouth can come from a lack of saliva development, which is treatable in a couple of ways. Your dentist can work with you on treatments to keep your mouth moist (such as artificial saliva), but you also have options like frequently chewing sugar-free gum or drinking lots of water.
Water is incredibly important to your dental health, partially because fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. Public water supplies contain added fluoride, and fluoridated toothpastes have been around since the 1950s. When possible, drink tap water instead of bottled water, but do not forget to maintain your normal brushing and flossing routine.
If you smoke, know that tobacco use can definitely contribute to bad breath without you realizing it. Tobacco also impacts your sense of smell, which is why you may not notice your breath smells of tobacco until someone says something.
Tobacco also has the potential to cause bacterial buildup in your mouth, which, as mentioned earlier, is often the source of bad breath. Quitting smoking is recommended, not just for your oral health, but also for your overall health.
The Mouthwash Myth
Mouthwash does not necessarily make your bad breath go away, but it can certainly hide it. Mouthwash is a great way to end your dental routine, but if you have persistent bad breath, there is likely an underlying cause that needs to be addressed. Mouthwash is a temporary solution to a long-term problem.
Mouthwash does not always kill all of the bacteria that cause bad breath, and if it is persistent, you may need to speak to your dentist to try and identify the cause. That does not mean that you should stop using mouthwash, however; it just means that there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.
When to See a Dentist
If you have made positive changes to your oral routine, including regular brushing and flossing, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding potent foods and your bad breath still persists, contact your dentist. Your dentist can help identify if you have gum disease, or any other issue that may be causing bad breath.
Regular Dental Visits Can Help You Fight Bad Breath
Arkansas Family Dental believes in compassionate care for all of our patients. Schedule an appointment today for a checkup and a consultation about bad breath or any other concerns you may have.