Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can affect people of all ages. It can be embarrassing, and if it doesn’t go away, it might also be a sign of a serious problem. But what exactly causes bad breath, and how can you get rid of it?
What Causes Bad Breath?
At my dental practice in St. Joseph, we know bad breath can be caused by a lot of things, including some types of food and drink. That type of bad breath usually dissipates fairly quickly and isn’t something to worry about. However, when bad breath tends to linger day in and day out, you should give us a call.
Chronic bad breath (halitosis), meaning bad breath that does not go away after brushing, flossing, and rinsing, is typically an indicator of a bigger problem. Halitosis means there is a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. Those bacteria live and feed off tooth plaque, and when they feed, hydrogen sulfide is produced and gives off a malodorous stench. Bad breath is also a top sign of gum disease – a serious concern for your mouth and your body.
Gum disease may also affect your overall health. Untreated gum disease has been shown to cause loose teeth, receding gums, and sensitivity, as well as increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetic complications.
How to Get Rid of Bad Breath
If you suffer from bad breath, there are few tips you can try.
- Proper Oral Hygiene. Maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine of brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day can work wonders to keep your mouth fresh and bacteria free. Make sure each time you brush it’s for about two minutes (hum “Happy Birthday” twice!) and that you reach each surface of each tooth. When flossing, it’s important to clean in between each tooth and under the gum line where bacteria love to hide.
- Tongue Scraping. Your tongue can hold a lot of bacteria in each of its tiny bumps and grooves, which is why it’s important to gently scrub it each time you brush. Some patients have difficulty cleaning their tongues with a traditional toothbrush because it makes them gag. If this is a problem for you, try using a tongue scraper instead.
- Water, Water, Water. Drinking plenty of water every day can also help keep your mouth stink free. Water keeps your mouth hydrated and rinses away bacteria. If you slack on your H₂O intake, your mouth could become dehydrated. When this happens, less saliva is produced and bacteria isn’t cleared away.
- Your Dentist. Bad breath shouldn’t be treated lightly. If you notice a lingering odor, call my St. Joseph dental office as soon as possible. We’ll work with you to determine the cause and talk about the best treatment for you. We also won’t lecture you or make you feel embarrassed. We’re here to help keep your smile and your body healthy.
Accepting patients from St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, and South Bend.