How to Fix Bad Breath
Bad breath, or halitosis, can be embarrassing and can even cause anxiety in some people. Everyone experiences bad breath, especially in the morning. It shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of because this condition can be treated or prevented with proper actions to be taken like oral hygiene.
Bad breath is caused by odor-producing bacteria that grow in the mouth. There are certain foods, health conditions, and habits that can cause bad breath. In most cases, bad breath can be improved or prevented with some simple steps or through proper dental hygiene. However, if the odor doesn’t go away with brushing and mouthwash, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem. If the simple oral care techniques don’t seem to solve the problem, you should see a dentist or physician.
Symptoms of Bad Breath
Many people wake up with smelly breath, also called morning breath. The main symptom of halitosis is a bad odor from the mouth that is considered beyond the acceptable level. Here’s the list of symptoms associated with bad breath:
- Dry mouth—having enough saliva can help flush out bad odors.
- Plaque around your teeth—bacteria in plaque produce acids, and these acids can destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities and gum disease.
- The white coating that forms on your tongue—caused by debris, bacteria, and dead cells.
- A bad taste in your mouth (metallic taste)—sometimes caused by heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion.
Causes of Bad Breath
Finding the cause of bad breath is the first step toward improving and treating this preventable condition. Take a look at this list:
- The Food You Eat
Food particles left around your teeth can increase bacteria and cause a bad odor. There are certain foods like onions, garlic, and other spices that are absorbed into the bloodstream and can have a potential effect on someone’s breath.
- Tobacco products
Smoking causes an unpleasant mouth odor. Additionally, smokers are more likely to have gum disease, which is another source of bad breath. Cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco can stain teeth and cause diseases such as periodontal disease, loss of taste, irritated gums, and, in the worst-case scenario, oral cancer.
- Poor oral care
Bad breath can be caused by not brushing and flossing daily. Your tongue, if not properly cleaned, can also trap bacteria that produce odors. Dentures that aren’t cleaned regularly or don’t fit properly can accumulate odor-causing bacteria.
- Xerostomia (dry mouth)
Naturally, our saliva helps cleanse the mouth, removing particles that cause bad odors. This condition, wherein the number of saliva decreases, also causes bad breath. Long-term dry mouth can be an indication of a problem with salivary glands and other diseases. Some medications can indirectly cause bad breath by contributing to dry mouth.
- Infections in your mouth
Bad breath can be caused by tooth decay, gum disease, or mouth sores.
- Nose, throat, and other conditions
In some cases, bad breath can occasionally come from inflammation in the nose, sinuses, or throat. Some cancers and metabolic disorders can cause a distinctive breath odor as a result of the chemicals they produce. Bad breath in children can be caused by a piece of food entering the nostril.
Simple Steps to Improve Your Breath
- Brush and floss more often
Plaque on your teeth collects bacteria that causes bad breath. Trapped foods also add to the problem. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once or more frequently, depending on your condition. However, overdoing it or brushing too hard can damage or harm your teeth, making them at risk of decay.
- Use mouthwash
Mouthwash adds extra protection by getting rid of bacteria. Make sure to use mouthwash with germ-killing elements. The ideal time to wash out is before bedtime.
- Brush or scrape your tongue
To get rid of the white coating that forms on your tongue and can host bacteria growth, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush. Brushing or scraping your tongue removes bacteria, food debris, and dead cells—and can make a big difference in your breath.
- Avoid foods that cause bad breath
Onions, garlic, and other spices trigger bad breath. Oftentimes, brushing after you eat them doesn’t help.
- Quit smoking
Aside from causing cancer, smoking can damage your gums, stain your teeth, and give you bad breath.
- Maintain the health of your gums
Bad breath is caused by gum disease. If you have it, your dentist may suggest you see a periodontist, who specialises in treating it.
- Moisten your mouth
If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water and chew sugarless gum.
Consult your doctor
If your bad breath continues despite your best efforts, make an appointment with your doctor. There could be underlying health issues that need further diagnosis and treatment.
How to treat halitosis
Treatment depends mainly on the cause of the condition. It is very important to understand what’s causing your halitosis. In most cases, if it is caused by poor oral hygiene, your dentist will recommend proper actions or treat the cause of the problem. For gum disease and plaque build-up, the dentist will more likely treat your condition or refer you to an oral specialist like a periodontist. However, if the dentist can’t find the cause of bad breath, you will be referred to an appropriate specialist or primary healthcare provider.