Bad breath is a problem for many people, and for a variety of reasons. Anyone who has shared an enclosed space with a person who has bad breath knows how unpleasant it can be for others, not to mention for oneself. In addition to being embarrassing and socially difficult, bad breath can sometimes be a sign of health problems that should be addressed.
Understanding the most common causes of bad breath can help you to cure your own bad breath, or prevent it from happening in the future.
Poor Dental Hygiene
Of course, one of the most common causes of bad breath is a lack of dental hygiene and care for one’s teeth. Regular flossing and brushing are essential to any dental care routine.
Typical recommendations for most people include a routine of daily flossing and twice-daily brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Using a dentist-approved mouthwash may also be incorporated into a dental care routine, as this can prevent the build-up of bacteria that can cause foul odors in the mouth.
Going for regular dental check-ups and teeth cleanings is one of the leading ways you can preserve, restore, or maintain your dental hygiene and prevent bad breath going forward.
Reconsider Tobacco Usage
Many people complain about the breath of smokers after they go outside for a cigarette. This alone is reason enough for many smokers to drop the habit for good.
However, smoking tobacco in any variety of forms also causes bad breath in other ways beyond simply the smell of cigarette smoke. Smoking dries out the oral cavity, creating a breeding ground for bacteria within the mouth. It is in this environment where that bacteria that produce bad breath flourish and thrive.
If you are a smoker who is hoping to prevent bad breath, now may be the time to consider giving up smoking as a habit on a more permanent basis.
Improve and Maintain Hydration
There is a theme among the most common causes of bad breath: growth and overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth. This bacteria overgrowth is promoted by dryness of the mouth and mucous membranes. Smoking dries out the oral cavity and facilitates this bacteria growth and the foul odor on the breath that it causes.
It follows that one of the best ways to prevent dryness of the oral mucous membranes is to keep them moist and well-hydrated. Drinking more than four glasses of water per day is a great way to make sure you aren’t developing any unwanted bad breath.
If you don’t like drinking water, then other fluids count toward your daily goal. These could include tea, juice, or other beverages that do not contain alcohol or caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine, on the other hands, should be avoided as they can serve to cause further dehydration.
Take a Second Look at What You Are Eating
Diet is another trigger for bad breath that can easily be changed to improve breath odor. Liquid foods or foods with a high liquid such as soups and many fruits and vegetables can improve the odor of the breath by promoting hydration of the mucous membranes of the mouth.
However, the impact of some foods on the breath can be quite strong and cause malodorous breath. These commonly include onion, garlic, some meats, and many spices. How these foods interact with the chemistry of the mouth is dependent on a number of factors and can vary from person to person.
You can figure out what your dietary triggers are through an elimination diet, where you remove all potential triggers from your diet and then re-introduce them one by one and see how the breath is affected.
Medications and Other Diseases
Many medications and physical ailments can cause or worsen the symptoms of bad breath. A wide range of medication can cause malodorous breath. This is because these medications cause anticholinergic effects, which means they can dry out the mucous membranes including the mouth. This dryness fosters an optimal environment where bacteria can grow and spread, causing smelly breath.
Similarly, medical conditions can cause or worsen bad breath. This is especially true of infections and disorders of the mouth and the upper gastrointestinal tract. Cancers of these areas are well-known for causing bad breath.
Another poorly-known cause of bad breath is a piece of food or another foreign body that is lodged in the mouth, throat, or most commonly the nose. This is uncommon in adults and more common in children, who may be unaware that such an obstruction has occurred.
Remember, no matter how superficial or how serious your dental problems may be, an appointment with Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry can answer any questions you have and provide treatment options for all types of dental conditions.