Let’s face it: bad breath is unavoidable. Unless you vow never to eat another garlicky pasta dinner and resist the temptation to grab that everything bagel from the break room at work, you’ll experience occasional bad breath now and then. This type of bad breath is nothing to be concerned about, but if you have chronic bad breath, or halitosis, it’s usually a sign of a dental or medical issue that needs attention. Here are some of the best ways to combat bad breath.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene Habits
No one wants to hear that they aren't brushing or flossing properly, but the truth is that poor oral hygiene is to blame for many cases of bad breath. Food and bacteria accumulates in your mouth if you don't brush as thoroughly or as often as recommended, and this combination leads to odor.
Let’s go back to the basics. Good oral hygiene means:
- Brushing twice a day for two minutes, making sure to reach the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
- Flossing between all of your teeth once a day.
- Cleaning any buildup from your tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper.
It's not necessary to rinse your mouth after brushing, but if you do, make sure it's with an alcohol-free mouthwash. Alcohol-based rinses can make bad breath worse by drying out your mouth. This leads us to our next point…
Prevent Dry Mouth
It’s important for your oral health that you have sufficient saliva. Your saliva sweeps bacteria, food particles, and dead cells out of your mouth all day. When you have a dry mouth, this debris builds up, resulting in bad breath. Bacterial overgrowth can occur in a dry mouth, which leads to tooth decay and gum disease—and cavities and gum disease also cause bad breath.
When dry mouth is caused by dehydration, the cure is simple: drink more water throughout the day and, when you can't, stimulate saliva production with a sugar-free lozenge or gum. There are other times when dry mouth is caused by medications or health conditions, and your physician may need to intervene. When dry mouth is severe and uncomfortable, we can also recommend moisturizing mouth rinses or even prescribe medications to increase saliva production.
See Your Dentist Regularly
Plaque and tartar are removed from your teeth during routine dental cleanings to lower the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, two conditions that can cause halitosis. In addition, you'll be able to share your concerns with us at these appointments, and we'll be able to determine whether there are any underlying dental issues that are causing your bad breath.
Another common reason for bad breath is tobacco use. Even after you've finished a cigarette, the smoke stays on your breath—and smoking is yet another factor that contributes to dry mouth.
While there are undoubtedly many more pressing reasons to quit smoking, for some people, knowing that their smoking habit is causing them to have embarrassing bad breath is enough to motivate them to give it up.
What to Do When These Tips Don’t Help
If you've tried the suggestions above but still have halitosis, it could be a symptom of a medical problem. Bad breath can be caused by GERD, allergies, tonsil stones, chronic sinus issues, and other common health disorders. Contact your primary care physician for a health evaluation once you've ruled out any dental issues.
Learn More About Bad Breath
As a holistic dental practice, we know that your physical health and your oral health are closely linked—and bad breath is a sign that something is out of balance. To learn more about what’s causing your bad breath, contact us today at 479-333-1300 to schedule an appointment.