Bad breath can be a subject that is difficult to talk about, and something we all dread having, but the truth is most of us experience foul smelling breath from time to time. There can be different reasons for having bad breath and it’s important to understand the causes to effectively treat this issue. Having bad breath can affect how you interact socially, your confidence at work and when talking to others and can even be a sign of a more serious condition such as gum disease.
Read here about 11 ways to avoid a dental emergency.
Do you wish you had fresher breath but not sure what it the most effective bad breath remedy? Perhaps you have tried common cures and feel a bit at a loss as to what to do next. Read on to find out more about what causes bad breath, what cures there are for bad breath, how can it be a symptom of gum disease and what you can do to maintain your oral health.
1. What Causes Bad Breath?
To start with, it’s important to understand that bad breath, or halitosis to give it its medical name, can be a temporary issue or can be a more long term concern, depending on the cause. There are a number of reasons that people have bad breath:
Eating foods with a strong odor
Likely culprits include coffee, garlic and onions, but eating foods with a strong odor can have an impact on your breath for longer than you think. It isn’t just that sometimes these foods get stuck between your teeth, but also as your body digests these foods, chemicals which are taken into the bloodstream are then expelled by your lungs, giving you breath that smells of garlic until the food has passed through your body.
Dry mouth and nasal conditions
When you have a dry mouth or have nasal conditions (chronic or temporary) that cause a drip of mucus into the mouth, you can experience issues with odorous breath.
Poor oral hygiene
When bacteria and old food builds up in your mouth, due to poor brushing and flossing technique or just skipping oral hygiene altogether, this causes bad breath. This can also have an impact on your oral and gum health over time, as bacteria attacks your gums and teeth.
Gum disease and tooth infection
Infection in the teeth or gums can produce a foul smelling odor when pus is released into the mouth which can cause bad breath and is a symptom of disease in the gums or teeth.
2. What cures bad breath?
As with any condition, bad breath cures depend on the cause of the issue.
Curing bad breath caused by odorous foods
Whilst many of us may reach for xylitol chewing gum, mouthwash and mints after eating particularly pungent foods, this won’t help with items like garlic as the effects will last as long as it takes for the food to pass through your body. The best advice is to avoid those odorous foods just before an important meeting or a first date! If you do happen to overload on the garlic before an important occasion, drinking a glass of milk might help to neutralise the effects.
Bad breath cures for dry mouth and nasal conditions
Drinking plenty of water is a great place to start when it comes to curing bad breath from a dry mouth or nasal drip, as it helps to hydrate the mouth. You can also chew on raw vegetables, such as carrots or celery, in between meals as this can help increase your saliva production. Be careful when choosing your mouthwash as well - an alcohol-based mouthwash can actually dry your mouth out further. Be sure to change your toothbrush if you’ve been unwell to give your mouth a fresh start!
Bad breath cures for poor oral hygiene
A lot of us struggling with bad breath will find that our oral hygiene is a big contributing factor, even if it’s not the only cause. The answer is simple - start and maintain a good oral hygiene routine daily. Brushing and flossing twice a day is vital for good oral hygiene, making sure that you reach the back of your teeth and brush your tongue as well. Make sure you replace your toothbrush regularly, as a worn brush head cannot clean your teeth properly. Stock up on good interdental brushes (fitted to the correct size to your teeth with the help of a hygienist) or floss. You should also have regular dental check-ups and visit a hygienist if you are struggling to get your oral hygiene under control.
Bad breath cures for gum and tooth disease
If your bad breath is connected to disease in the mouth, whether gum disease or a tooth infection, it’s really important to visit your dentist as soon as possible to get treatment.
3. What does bad breath really mean?
Gum disease can impact each of us in a different way, but bad breath is a common early symptom of gum disease and shouldn’t be ignored.
Why does gum disease cause bad breath?
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of bacteria, often from poor oral hygiene and ineffective cleaning of the teeth. When leftover food breaks down in between your teeth this causes a buildup of plaque and bacteria that irritates your gums. This bacteria causes odorous gases to be released into the mouth which can cause bad breath.
How do I know if my bad breath is a symptom of gum disease?
If you have bad breath even when you haven’t eaten smelly foods and perhaps have other symptoms like bleeding when brushing or sore and reddened gums, you should visit your dentist or hygienist for a check-up. Regular visits to the dentist and hygienist, as well as a good oral hygiene routine, can help to avoid any issues developing. Gum disease left untreated can lead to gum abscesses and even the loss of teeth so if you have any concerns you should visit a dentist.
4. How do I maintain fresh breath?
If you currently have great smelling breath and want to keep it that way here a few tips for maintaining a healthy and fresh mouth:
Thinking about what you eat
We’re not saying cut out strong smelling food and drinks, such as garlic, coffee and onions, but consider what you are eating and when, timing it well with meetings and when you need to have confidence in your breath!
Consider giving up smoking
If you smoke, it not only affects your breath but can also have an impact on your oral and general health. Considering giving up smoking can improve your oral health and have an impact on your breath.
Address any underlying health concerns
Where chronic bad breath is related to an underlying health cause, such as nasal or throat infections, lung infections such as bronchitis, gastro-intestinal issues or diabetes, it’s important you don’t ignore this. Getting treatment is not just about getting fresher breath but bringing your body back to full health!
Get a good daily oral hygiene routine
Brush and floss regularly, making sure you get to the back of your teeth and in-between the gaps. Using a mouthwash can also help.
Look after your smile
Visit your dentist regularly and consider booking with a hygienist for a deep clean and advice if you are struggling with consistently bad smelling breath.
Dealing with bad breath can have a positive impact on your life
Having bad breath can get you down. It can impact your confidence and be a sign that your mouth or body isn’t as healthy as it could be. Dealing with bad breath can renew your confidence in social and work situations and even improve your overall health.
As dentists, we consider chronic bad breath (sustained over days, regardless of the types of food you eat) to be a red flag symptom of gum disease. If you experience bad breath as well as any toothache, this is a serious warning sign from your body and requires urgent attention. Visiting your dentist in Puyallup as soon as you feel a niggling toothache can help to avoid issues developing into severe toothache and gum abscesses, and perhaps even the loss of teeth.
Why not check out Mouth Pain Matrix to see what your toothache may mean.
If you are ignoring even the slightest of unusual sensation in your teeth, don’t wait for it to get worse! To find out more, read here about 11 ways to avoid a dental emergency.