If you are like 65 percent of the people in the world, your breath is not always as pleasant as you’d like. The fact of the matter is, human breath can sometimes stink. Everyone wants to feel good about the way their mouth looks and smells, so here’s everything you need to know about the causes of bad breath and how to make your own breath better.
What is bad breath?
Known to scientists as halitosis, bad breath is an all-too human condition that can happen to anyone at any time. According to Mayo Clinic, the main causes of bad breath revolve around food and oral hygiene. Underlying health conditions can trigger halitosis, too.
Common causes of stinky breath
Things you eat
When food particles settle in and around your teeth, your mouth can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Any food you eat can cause this problem, but garlic, onions, and super spicy foods are major contributors to bad breath. Does this mean you have to give up pizza, tacos, and other tasty treats? Not at all. In a minute, we’ll tell you how keep your breath smelling sweet.
Xerostemia, or dry mouth, is one of the most common contributors to the dreaded condition known as ‘morning breath’ or ‘dragon mouth.’ If you sleep with your mouth wide open, the problem may become even worse. Why does this happen? Because saliva helps to keep your mouth free of decaying food particles.
Every kind of tobacco product, including chewing tobacco, can cause an unpleasant aroma to inhabit your clothes, hair, and breath. It is a known fact that cigarette smokers are more prone to foul-smelling gum disease than non-smokers, so quit. You’ll be doing yourself (and everyone around you) a fine favor indeed.
Poor dental hygiene
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again. Brushing and flossing goes a very long way toward protecting the health of your teeth and gums. Go too long without proper cleaning, and sticky plaque will adhere to your teeth, tongue, and gums and put you at risk for periodontal disease. Inadequate hygiene leads to cavities and gum disease, both of which can make your exhalations most unpleasant.
Some prescription and over-the-counter medications come with the troubling side effect of dry mouth that causes smelly breath. Certain medications also have a tendency to release breath-wrecking chemicals as they break down inside your body. If you take medications that alter your breath, be extra careful about keeping your teeth clean.
Medical conditions that can lead to bad breath
Although they are not as prevalent as the causes mentioned above, several health conditions are known to facilitate halitosis. Postnasal drip, chronic infections, and metabolic disorders can cause bad breath. So can gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Digestive disorders may also lead to troublesome breath.
DIY breath freshening tips
Nobody wants to blast bad breath into a pleasant conversation, right? Cultivate and keep good dental hygiene habits, and you’ll seriously lessen your risk of offending friends and co-workers.
Brush and floss after meals and snacks
You’ve heard this one all your life, because it’s absolutely true. Brush your teeth when you wake up in the morning, brush after every meal, and floss between your teeth at least once each day to keep your mouth clean, healthy, and fresh. Wet your brush, apply just a dab of toothpaste, and brush, brush, brush.
Move the bristles up and down, then move them side to side to ensure you properly clean all surfaces of your teeth. Don’t give up after a few seconds. A thorough job requires at least one minute of vigorous brushing. Once you’re done with that, go ahead and floss between teeth. Waxed or un-waxed, mint flavored or plain, dental floss gets into tight places that your toothbrush can’t reach. Don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every few months, as well.
Scrub or scrape your tongue, too
Before your final rinse and spit, brush the surface of your tongue to remove remaining food particles and reduce the proliferation of bacteria. Many people find oral hygiene success with a special plastic or bamboo scraper made especially for tongue cleaning.
Keep your mouth moist
Hydration is important for your whole body, including the tissues in your mouth. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth, gums, and tongue moistened. For those who enjoy chewing gum, opt for a sugar-free variety to moisten your mouth and keep your breath fresh.
Rinse, swish, and spit
Brushing and flossing are great habits to cultivate, but they’re not the only good things you can do to keep bad breath at bay. Swish and spit a high-quality mouthwash to remove the last vestiges of food particles from your mouth. Even better, opt for a germ-killing oral rinse such as Listerine to destroy odor-causing bacteria before it has a chance to stink up your breath. If you’re prone to dry mouth, choose an alcohol-free mouthwash. Not only can regular rinsing with mouthwash make your breath smell a whole lot better, it can discourage the onset of gingivitis gum disease.
Enjoy regular dental checkups
Take good care of your teeth and gums, and you’ll reduce your chances of malodorous breath. Schedule regular visits with your dentist who will monitor your mouth for any oral problems that can lead to bad breath.
How to know if you have bad breath
Despite the fact that your nose is only an inch or so above your mouth, it can be hard to evaluate the aroma of your own breath. Don’t worry. Ask a trusted friend to give your breath a sniff and provide an honest answer. Your dentist or oral hygienist can also monitor your breath when you come in for a visit.
Ready to schedule a breath-bettering dental checkup? Your dentist will be pleased to provide additional info about how to keep a healthy mouth and super fresh breath.