How Fresh is Your Breath? Tips For Fresher Breath From General & Family Dentist in Seattle, WA
Updated: Feb 15, 2022
Do you ever feel self conscious about your breath? Bad breath happens to everyone at some point or another, but chronic bad breath (aka halitosis, or oral malodor) is a glaring warning sign that you need to make some changes to your oral health routine!
Common Causes of Bad Breath
The first step to getting rid of chronic bad breath is to figure out what is causing it. Sometimes the cause is obvious, such as not brushing or flossing daily. But sometimes the cause of chronic bad breath is more difficult to identify, such as an undiagnosed digestive issue, or certain prescribed medications. Let’s take a look at the common causes of bad breath:
Food: The breakdown of food around and between your teeth is probably the most frequent, daily cause of bad breath. Food debris around and between teeth allows bacteria to multiply and causes bad breath. Certain foods and spices such as garlic and onions are also associated with strong odors from the mouth, when these foods enter the bloodstream and are carried to the lungs, affecting breath.
Poor oral hygiene: If you don’t brush and floss every day, bacteria and food particles remain in your mouth -- resulting in not just bad breath, but also a much higher chance of developing cavities and gum disease. Odor-causing bacteria can also get trapped on the uneven surface of the tongue and tonsils, so make sure to gargle with mouthwash and brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper about once a week! Dentures, removable retainers and aligners that aren’t cleaned regularly can also harbor bad-breath causing bacteria. Keeping a consistent dental hygiene routine is the best defense against bad breath!
Gum disease: Bad breath that simply will not go away could be a sign of advanced gum disease, nearly always caused by poor dental hygiene -- specifically, failing to regularly clean away the sticky, bacterial laden film constantly forming on our teeth called plaque, allowing it to build up in pockets between the teeth and below the gum line. The good news is that most stages of gum disease can be eliminated by Scaling and Root Planning, often called a dental deep cleaning. After an SRP treatment, it is very important to maintain good dental hygiene in order to help the gums heal and prevent the disease from recurring.
Tobacco products of all kinds (cigarettes, vaping, chewing tobacco, etc) all-cause unpleasant mouth odor along with serious oral health issues. Tobacco users are also much more prone to gum disease, another cause of bad breath.
Dry mouth: Proper saliva production is more important to your oral health than you might think! Saliva helps clean the mouth, rinsing away food particles and bacteria. When a person has a condition called dry mouth (or xerostomia), bad breath occurs more often because the production of saliva is decreased. Dry mouth occurs naturally during sleep and is worse if you sleep with your mouth open, resulting in “morning breath.” Chronic dry mouth throughout the day is indicative of a health condition; xerostomia can sometimes be caused by some medications, diseases, or a problem with the salivary glands. If you have chronic dry mouth, visit the doctor or dentist to identify the cause and learn about your treatment options.
Medications: As mentioned above, certain medications can cause dry mouth, a common cause of bad breath. Other medications may produce chemicals that carry a distinctive odor on the breath.
Conditions in the mouth, nose or throat, such as: infections in the mouth, tonsil stones, seasonal allergies, sinus infection, postnasal drip.
Certain diseases and disorders, such as some cancers and digestive issues, can cause a distinctive breath odor as a result of the chemicals they produce, and/or as a result of chronic acid reflux.
Improve Your Breath Around-the-Clock
Brush Morning and Night to scrub clean your teeth and mouth surfaces of odor-causing bacteria and food debris.
Floss Before Bedtime to clean away bacteria and food particles that brushing alone cannot get rid of.
Gargle with an Antiseptic Mouthwash to kill bad breath causing bacteria and plaque that can lead to gingivitis. And if you use a removable dental appliance (dentures, retainers or aligners), be sure to clean them daily as well.
Stay Hydrated and drink plenty of water! It will help keep your mouth moist, and rinse away food debris and bacteria.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum to increase saliva production and help wash away bacteria and food particles. Gums and mints containing xylitol are best!
Visit the Dentist Regularly to keep on top of any changes in your oral health and to identify any issues before they become more serious and costly to treat. Dental exams and professional teeth cleanings are important tools for maintaining a healthy mouth, plus your dentist will be able to find and treat problems like dry mouth, periodontal disease, or other issues that may cause bad breath.
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