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What Causes Bad Breath?

Female with bad breathEverybody has experienced bad breath at some point. Fortunately, for most people, you can rid embarrassing bad breath with a glass of water, toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, mints or with flossing.

If you want to steer clear of bad breath altogether, it’s a great idea to avoid certain potent foods that are sure to be a culprit of bad breath like onions and garlic.

We do see patients often that have constant bad breath that may not be fixed with brushing, flossing, or avoiding certain foods.

We refer to excessively bad breath as halitosis.

Those suffering with it can be extremely self-conscious, and may experience embarrassment and anxiety.

Halitosis actually isn’t a rare condition. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 4 people have bad breath. Bad breath is fairly common, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re not alone.

So, what causes bad breath and how can it be treated?

Causes of Bad Breath

  • Bad oral hygiene. The largest cause of bad breath is poor dental hygiene. When both personal and professional dental care and upkeep is inadequate, food particles can get trapped between teeth and over time these food particles decay and decompose, emitting odorous bacterial acids in the mouth.
  • Smoking. Tobacco has a strong odor and the carcinogens from it coat the teeth, producing the same, smelly decomposing effect as food.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates the mouth which enhances the decaying odors of the bacteria in the mouth. It also disrupts your digestive system which can increase acid reflux, adding to the bacteria that is already in the mouth.
  • Tooth decay. When your teeth decay, it is caused by bacteria and germs eating away at your enamel which causes cavities. This can produce unpleasant odors that come out as bad breath.
  • Dry mouth. Saliva is your body’s natural mouth cleaning system. It wipes off food particles and plaque that coat and get stuck between teeth. When your mouth is dry, you don’t have this natural mouth cleaner available to naturally clean for you. As a result, the bacteria on and between the teeth will decay, producing odors in the mouth.
  • What you eat. Certain foods such as onions and garlic can emit a strong odor that is also carried into the mouth as bad breath. A diet high in sticky foods and candies as well as hard candy can also lead to bad breath because these types of food particles are harder to remove, and will therefore likely decay in the mouth.
  • Other medical issues. Bacterial infections and inflammation of the nose, throat or sinuses, the presence of a foreign body, certain cancers, and gastroesophageal disease (GERD) can all contribute to halitosis. Some of these are unavoidable, while others you can treat or avoid with the help of a medical professional.

There are other, lesser known causes of bad breath that would be suggested you discuss with your dentist or doctor about.

Now that you know the most common causes of halitosis, how can it be treated?

Treatments for Halitosis

  • Good oral hygiene: Proper oral care includes brushing your teeth twice a day, preferably after every meal, and daily flossing. Additionally, according to The American Dental Association you should brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes but most people spend an average of only 45 seconds brushing.
  • Clean dental weark: If you have removable dental mouth wear like mouth guards or retainers, it needs to be removed and cleaned daily.  This daily cleaning will limit the build-up of bacteria as well as the transferring of bacteria back into the mouth. Similarly, your toothbrush needs to be replaced every 2-3 months.
  • Don’t forget your tongue: While attention is on teeth and gums, the tongue is just as important. Your tongue actually catches more bacteria, food particles and dead cells than your teeth and gums. Yet, we often forget this feature. A tongue scraper is a good tool to clean off your tongue.
  • Avoid dry mouth: Drink a lot of water and avoid alcohol and tobacco, both of which dehydrate the mouth. Chewing gum or sucking a sweet (preferably sugar-free) can help stimulate the production of saliva.
  • Diet: Avoid onions, garlic, spicy and sugary foods. Reduce coffee and alcohol consumption. Eating a breakfast that includes rougher foods can help clean the back of the tongue first thing in the morning helping your breath for the rest of the day.

Bad oral hygiene, underlying health issues, and dental decay are some of the more common causes of bad breath. Proper dental hygiene and cleaning of dental equipment are some ways to reduce bad breath.

If you have consistent bad breath, and are tired of the daily embarrassment, schedule an appointment  for a consultation or a dental cleaning in Denver, CO with us at LeDown’s Dentistry today. We want our patients to life to the fullest with a beautiful smile and plenty of confidence.

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