Getting to the Root of Bad Breath
Good dental hygiene should help you clear up a bad case of halitosis. But what's causing your stinky breath in the first place?
If you're constantly popping mints or chewing gum to cover up bad breath, you're not alone. One in four Americans has halitosis and is cursed with smelly breath.
Why? Most cases of halitosis are caused by improper dental hygiene. If you don't brush and floss your teeth after every meal, bits of food that get stuck in your teeth and gums and on your tongue will begin to decay and emit foul odors.
An unclean mouth also means that bacteria can grow, potentially leading to gum disease, which is also one of the causes of bad breath. In addition, certain foods and drink are more likely to cause bad breath, including:
After these foods or drinks are digested, their oils make their way into your bloodstream and are then carried into your lungs. The odor is then released through your breath.
Other Causes of Bad Breath
Aside from what you eat and drink, bad breath can also be linked to:
Beating Bad Breath
To combat bad breath, try the following:
When to See Your Dentist About Bad Breath
If you still feel like you have bad breath after trying these tips, ask someone who is close to you for confirmation. Sometimes, you really are your own worst critic. If it is indeed an issue, make an appointment with your dentist to try to uncover what could be causing your bad breath.
Avoid drinking, eating, chewing gum, or brushing your teeth before your dental appointment. Skip the perfume or other scented products too, so that your dentist can truly assess your halitosis. Your dentist will likely ask you a number of questions, ranging from your dental hygiene habits to your general health.
In some cases, halitosis may be due to a buildup of plaque, which is a layer of bacteria on your teeth. If this is the case, the dentist may have you use a special antimicrobial mouth rinse.
If your dentist determines that the bad breath is due to gum disease, you'll be treated or referred to a gum disease doctor, called a periodontist. Also called periodontal disease, gum disease causes your gums to recede from the teeth and leaves pockets that gather bacteria and plaque. A periodontal cleaning, or more extensive treatment, may be needed.
If your dentist isn't able to uncover the reason for your bad breath, a trip to your primary care doctor for a physical exam would be the next step to determine the underlying causes of your bad breath.