Anyone can have it, but no one wants it.
Patients often ask “Why do I have bad breath?” and then the next question usually is “How do I get rid of bad breath?” We will address what causes bad breath, some our of favorite remedies for bad breath and what you can do to prevent it. Bad breath is also referred to as halitosis. It’s an embarrassing problem that can take a toll on your social life and self-confidence. Fortunately, bad breath can be simple to treat when you know the cause.
What causes bad breath?
If you’ve ever sat next to someone who’s just eaten a lot of garlic, you’re probably aware that we tend to breathe what we eat. But to get a better understanding of what’s behind the condition, it helps to know that halitosis is usually caused by anaerobic bacteria that live in the mouth. These bacteria don’t need oxygen to survive, and they secrete sulfur compounds that create a rotten egg or cabbage-gone-bad kind of smell. So, if you want to know how to get rid of bad breath, you need to learn how to reduce these unwanted bacteria. Some factors that set the stage for stink-causing microbes to flourish are as follows:
- Dry mouth. When the mouth becomes dry, there simply isn’t enough oxygen-containing saliva to keep your mouth as fresh and healthy as you’d like. Anaerobic bacteria will take advantage of the saliva drought to multiply and cause bad breath. You can suffer the ill-effects of dry mouth from sleeping with your mouth open, drinking alcohol, using tobacco products or taking certain medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and/or antianxiety medications.
- An infection. If you have an infection in your mouth, such as an abscess, mouth sore or inflamed surgical wound, bad breath is one of the telltale signs. Sinus or throat infections can also contribute to an unpleasant odor that emanates from the mouth. Naturally, those problems should be resolved by your primary care physician before you decide whether you need to start halitosis treatment.
- Other causes: People who suffer from frequent gastric reflux find they have bad breath. Their bad breath goes away once they get that condition under control. Small, bacteria covered stones on your tonsils (tonsilloliths) can leave a bad taste and odor in your mouth too. More serious conditions, like cancer or liver disease, can also result in bad breath.
Bad Breath Remedies
Many people reach for alcohol-containing mouthwash at the first hint of bad breath. However, rather than being a bad breath cure, alcohol can exacerbate the problem because of its drying effect. Your dentist may recommend mouthwash and toothpaste that contain oxygenating agents instead. Oxygen has been clinically proven to stop the proliferation of odor-causing bacteria in the mouth. If you have chronic dry mouth, ask your dentist to recommend an oral care product that acts as a saliva substitute. If you take some medications which can cause dry mouth symptoms, ask your physician if another medication might be more appropriate for you.
Preventing Bad Breath
It’s well-known that eating foods like onions and garlic can cause bad breath. However, all types of food can cause an unpleasant smell if you don’t pay attention to oral hygiene. To prevent bad breath, try these tips.
- Brush and floss every day.
- Brush your tongue to help remove any odor-causing bacteria there.
- Use alcohol-free mouthwash before bed.
- Drink plenty of water during the day.
- Chew a piece of sugar-free gum if your mouth feels dry.
- See your dentist regularly.
If you’re paying careful attention to dental hygiene but still seem to have a problem with bad breath, visit a dentist for an exam and personalized halitosis treatment plan. If you don’t have a dentist in the Longwood / Altamonte Springs area, give Dr. Mark Offenback a call at 407-869-7333.