Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is an oral health issue that affects people of all ages. Not only does it make socializing with others uncomfortable, it can hugely impact someone’s sense of self. In order to properly fight against bad breath, it is important to understand what causes it, and the best ways to prevent it. With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at halitosis so you can be sure your breath is fresh every day. If you think your bad breath may be caused by an oral health issue, call Dr. Burchman in Langhorne today to schedule an appointment. With years of experience under his belt, he will be more than happy to help you improve your oral health.
-Causes of Bad Breath and Who is at Risk
- Bad dental hygiene habits.
- Elderly, disabled people, and young children, who have trouble maintaining dental hygiene.
- People with dental appliances, such as braces, retainers, and dentures.
- Tobacco smokers are more prone to develop bad breath and periodontal disease (which also contributes to bad breath).
- Health conditions such as tooth decay, impacted teeth, abscessed teeth, periodontal disease, alcoholism, untreated diabetes, kidney disease, sinusitis, throat and lung infections (like bronchitis), post-nasal drip, allergies, and dry mouth. Dry mouth may develop in those with a high-protein diet, non-fibrous diet, or dehydration.
- Certain medications, such as vitamin supplements, antihistamines, calcium blockers, heart medications, blood pressure prescriptions, and psychiatric drugs. These medications can reduce the flow of saliva or produce dry mouth, which can lead to halitosis. Dry mouth can also lead to being excessively thirsty, as well as tooth decay – both of which make halitosis more likely to take hold.
- Foods, such as diet soda, onions, spices, garlic, curry, cabbage, and coffee. If high-protein food debris is stuck between teeth, it can spur on halitosis as well.
Bad breath can most often be attributed to bacteria producing bacteria in the mouth, nose, or stomach, which then comes into contact with the air. A nasal dysfunction, such as a genetic abnormality in the nasal passage, may restrict mucus flow. When this happens, bacteria found in sinusitis, post-nasal drip, and allergies may transfer from the nose to the back of the tongue, where it stays due to poor saliva flow or bad dental hygiene habits. Additionally, bacterial plaque that is not properly removed from the teeth, gums, and in between teeth, it will keep growing and develop into halitosis, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Biologists have determined that many different types of bacteria will contribute to halitosis. All of those forms of bacteria are also found in other types of bad scents, such as corpse scent (resulting from a combination of oxygen and sulfur compounds and/or gases containing nitrogen, such as cadaverine), rotting meat (putrescine), rotten egg smell (hydrogen sulfide), and stinky feet (isovaleric acid). When you think about these types of smells coming from your mouth, it makes it clear why proper dental health and regular dental checkups are so important.
-Fighting and Preventing Bad Breath
The number one way to prevent bad breath is through practicing good dental hygiene habits, as it will fight against the halitosis within the mouth. When food debris is left between your teeth and around your gums, it creates perfect conditions for bacteria that cause bad breath to grow, so you need to make sure it is removed regularly.
You need to brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss between every tooth daily, if not more regularly. It is incredibly important that you brush and floss after consuming a high-protein meal, or any other meals that can spur on foul breath and dehydration. Another good way to reduce the growth of halitosis-causing bacteria is through the use of antiseptic mouthwash in the morning before you go to bed, and after eating. Different mouthwashes contain different ingredients, so it is a good idea to consult with your dentist to see which one they would recommend for you.
When you include a tongue scraper into your normal hygiene routine, you can remove mucus and bacteria that cause bad breath. It’s important to do this gently, so you don’t damage your tongue. People with braces, dentures, or other dental appliances need to follow their dentist’s instructions to clean these appliances to avoid bad breath. This is especially the case when it comes to appliances that are removed at night, such as a retainer.
In addition to maintaining a regular dental hygiene routine, it is important that you take your diet into consideration. Because certain foods can help with saliva flow, you can actually cut down on the possibility of halitosis based on what you eat (i.e. fibrous foods like raw vegetables). They call breakfast the most important meal of the day, and if you eat a healthy one in the morning, it will kickstart your saliva flow to wash away bacteria and odor that has built up while you were asleep. It is also important to stay hydrated throughout the day, so drinking water instead of soda, juice, or other high-sugar, high-acid beverages will help fight bad breath as well.
While using mouthwash, mints, or gum can freshen up your breath in the short term, they are unable to prevent bad breath fully. Some other ways you can help prevent bad breath include:
Using a straw when drinking sugary beverages, as it will reduce the amount of time it is in contact with your teeth, preventing bacteria from developing as much.
People with dry mouth may benefit from over-the-counter or prescription medications that are intended to promote saliva flow. Discuss with your dentist to see which of these options might be best for you. It might be toothpaste, a toothbrush, mouth rinse, or breath spray.
Fighting bad breath is within your control. By managing your diet, maintaining a regular dental hygiene routine, and utilizing breath aids when necessary, you can have fresh breath and avoid embarrassing social situations. If you are looking for help in improving your oral health care, here in Langhorne, call Dr. Burchman to schedule an appointment today. We look forward to seeing you soon!