Bad Breath (halitosis), yes something stinks and I believe it is the makers of mints and mouthwashes that sell millions of dollars worth of products every year. Yet these products may help control halitosis only temporarily. They actually may be less effective than simply rinsing your mouth with water and brushing and flossing your teeth.
Certain foods, health conditions and habits are among the causes of foul breath. In many cases you can improve halitosis with proper dental hygiene. If simple self-care techniques don’t solve the problem, you may want to see your dentist or physician to rule out a more serious condition.
The causes of halitosis are numerous. They include:
- Food. The breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth can cause a foul odor. Eating foods containing volatile oils is another source of bad breath. Onions and garlic are the best known examples, but other vegetables and spices also can cause bad breath. After such foods are digested and the pungent oils are absorbed into your bloodstream, they’re carried to your lungs and are given off in your breath until the food is eliminated from your body. Alcohol behaves in the same fashion, allowing the measurement of alcohol levels by breath tests. Alcohol itself has almost no odor, however. The characteristic smell on your breath is mainly the odor of other components of the beverage.
- Dental problems. Poor dental hygiene and periodontal disease can be a source of halitosis. If you don’t brush and floss daily, food particles remain in your mouth, collecting odorous bacteria. A colorless, sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your teeth. If not brushed away, plaque can irritate your gums (gingivitis) and cause tooth decay. Eventually, plaque-filled pockets can form between your teeth and gums (periodontitis), worsening this problem — and your breath. Dentures that aren’t cleaned regularly or don’t fit properly can also harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles.
- Dry mouth. Saliva helps cleanse and moisten your mouth. A dry mouth enables dead cells to accumulate on your tongue, gums and cheeks. These cells then decompose and cause odor. Dry mouth is natural during sleep. It’s the cause of “morning breath.” But dry mouth is a problem especially if you sleep with your mouth open. Some medications and smoking also can lead to a chronic dry mouth, as can a problem with your salivary glands.
Self-Care/Prevention for Bad Breath
Try the following steps to improve or prevent Halitosis:
- Brush your teeth after you eat.
Keep a toothbrush at work to brush after lunch.
- Floss at least once a day.
Proper flossing removes food particles and plaque from between your teeth.
- Brush your tongue.
Giving your tongue, including the back of your tongue, a good brushing removes dead cells, bacteria and food debris.
- Clean your dentures well.
If you wear a bridge or a partial or a complete denture, clean it thoroughly at least once a day or as directed by your dentist.
- Drink plenty of water.
To keep your mouth moist, be sure to consume plenty of water — not coffee, pop or alcohol. Chewing gum (preferably sugarless) or sucking on candy (preferably sugarless) also stimulates saliva, washing away food particles and bacteria. If you suffer from chronic dry mouth, your dentist or physician may additionally prescribe an artificial saliva preparation.
- Use a fairly new toothbrush.
Change your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months.
- Schedule regular dental checkups.
At least twice a year, see your dentist to have your teeth or dentures examined and cleaned.
You can teach your school-age children to brush and floss their teeth regularly and to brush their tongue to prevent halitosis. However, don’t give children mouthwash to use, because many mouthwash products contain alcohol and can pose a risk for children if they swallow the liquid.
Below is one link that provides documentation to what we believe to be a safe and effective alternative to treating and preventing bad breath.
These links will redirect you to…