October 7, 2018
Few personal problems are more embarrassing than bad breath – but everyone experiences it at some time or another. In fact, Americans spend around 10 billion dollars each year on breath-freshening products, which is no surprise when you consider how bad breath can affect your overall confidence. Often referred to by a dentist as halitosis, this common problem can rear its head at the worst times, including first dates, job interviews and meetings at work. But what causes it – and what can you do about it? Keep reading to find out!
What Causes Bad Breath?
Unfortunately, there are quite a few potential causes of bad breath:
- Gum Disease – Gum disease affects an estimated 47% of Americans under 65 and 70% of Americans over 65. This common condition causes deep “pockets” to form around each tooth that collect plaque and bacteria. Unfortunately, even good brushing and flossing can’t always remove it, which can lead to a gum infection that gives off a chronic bad odor.
- Diet – Certain foods like garlic, coffee and onions can lead to temporary bad breath that improves after brushing and flossing.
- Dry Mouth – Saliva washes away plaque and odor-causing bacteria. When salivary flow is low, bacteria remains in the mouth and contributes to bad breath. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications and also happens to many people while sleeping, leading to “morning breath.”
- Medical Conditions – Sinus problems, acid reflux, diabetes, and liver or kidney disease can all cause bad breath.
- Poor Hygiene – Poor oral hygiene habits leave behind odor-causing plaque and bacteria and are one of the leading causes of bad breath. In fact, even good brushing isn’t always adequate because it only removes 2/3 of the bacteria in the mouth. Flossing is necessary to remove the other 1/3.
How Can You Get Rid of Bad Breath?
The good news is that there are easy steps you can take to manage or eliminate your bad breath:
- The first step is to schedule a checkup and cleaning with a dentist. They can remove the tartar deposits that you can’t at home as well as recommend the appropriate treatments if you have gum disease.
- Brush and floss regularly. An electric toothbrush will generally do a better job cleaning your teeth and gums than a manual one, and an oral irrigator is a great addition that can help clean under the gum line, especially if you have gum disease.
- The tongue harbors a lot of bacteria, so don’t forget to brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper!
- For dry mouth, stay well hydrated, chew sugar-free gum and try one of the product lines in drugstores made especially for this condition. Since dry mouth also puts you at a higher risk for cavities, it’s extra important to do well with brushing and flossing!
- See your doctor to rule out any potential medical conditions.
Bad breath is a confidence-killer. But with these tips, you’ll be on your way to fresher breath (and the self-assurance that goes with it) in no time!
About the Author
Dr. Bob Koenitzer is an award-winning general, restorative and cosmetic dentist who is dedicated to helping his patients achieve excellent oral health in every area – including having fresh breath! If you think you might have bad breath and have any other questions for him, he can be reached via his website or at (707) 766-6666.
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