Bad breath, known as halitosis, is an awkward condition, causing anxiety. Several products are there like gum, mints, and mouthwashes that temporarily help fight bad breath, but these don't repair the root cause of the problem.
Some foods, health conditions and habits lead to bad breath. Proper dental hygiene can help improve bad breath, and when simple self-care techniques don't work well, talk to your dentist or physician to ensure the bad breath is not due to a more severe medical condition.
Foul breath odors may vary, depending on their underlying reasons. Some people are concerned too much about their breath while they have little or no mouth odor. Many others may have bad breath but don't know about it. So, check with a close friend or relative to confirm about bad breath.
When you have bad breath, reconsider your oral hygiene habits, make lifestyle changes, like brush the teeth and tongue after eating, drink plenty of water and use dental floss regularly. When a bad breath condition persists after making lifestyle changes, see the dentist. If the dentist suspects the reason for bad breath as a more severe condition, he will refer you to a doctor to find the root of the odor.
Most bad breath begins in the mouth and occurs due to many reasons:
- Food. A foul odor may result from increased bacteria due to a breakdown of food particles in and around the teeth. Some foods like onions, garlic and spices, may cause bad breath. After digestion, these foods enter the bloodstream, are carried to the lungs and affect the breath.
- Tobacco products. Smoking results in its own unpleasant mouth odor. Smokers and oral tobacco users are prone to have gum disease, another cause of bad breath.
- Poor dental hygiene. When you don't brush and floss daily, food particles settle in the mouth, causing bad breath. The tongue may also trap bacteria that produce odors.
- Dry mouth. The condition called dry mouth happens during sleep and contributes to bad breath because saliva production is lessened. Saliva supports to cleanse the mouth, removing particles that produce foul odors. Chronic dry mouth can occur with the salivary glands and some diseases.
- Medications. Some medications may indirectly cause bad breath by contributing to dry mouth. Others are broken down in the body to release chemicals that are carried on the breath.
- Infections in the mouth. Surgical wounds may lead to bad breath after oral surgery like a tooth removal or tooth decay, gum disease or mouth sores.
- Some mouth, nose and throat conditions. Occasionally, bad breath stems from small stones in the tonsils, covered with bacteria, producing odor. Chronic inflammation or infections in the nose, throat or sinuses may also contribute to postnasal drip and creating bad breath.
- Other causes. Diseases, like some cancers, and conditions such as metabolic disorders, all contribute to distinctive breath odor due to chemicals they produce. Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) is also associated with bad breath.
Tips to limit and prevent bad breath:
• Brush the teeth after you eat using toothpaste with antibacterial properties to reduce foul breath odors.
• Proper flossing at least once a day helps remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth, assisting in controlling the bad breath.
• Brush your tongue as it harbors bacteria, so carefully brush it to lessen the odors.
• Ensure to keep your mouth moist, avoid tobacco and drink plenty of water but not coffee, soft drinks or alcohol that leads to a drier mouth.
• Limit foods like onions and garlic that cause bad breath, and sugary foods are also linked with bad breath.
• Regularly change your toothbrush when it gets frayed, about every three to four months, and choose a soft-bristled toothbrush.
• Go for a regular dental checkup, generally twice a year, to have the teeth or dentures examined and cleaned.