Bad breath, also known as halitosis, may be caused by a number of factors. We all know that pungent foods such as onions or garlic can cause less-than-fresh breath, but dry mouth, periodontal disease and tobacco use can also contribute.
Bad breath can also be caused by bacteria that feed off of food particles and other debris that sticks to teeth, dental braces or dentures. Thorough brushing and flossing at least twice a day or after eating should take care of the offending odors. Paying specific attention to your tongue while brushing can also help eliminate odors since bacteria can cling to the tongue’s surface.
If you are concerned about having bad breath after eating, but do not have time to brush afterwards, chewing gum or sucking sugar-free candy can help stimulate saliva flow which helps wash away bacteria and debris.
What to Do Next
Drinking plenty of water and snacking on crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery and carrots can also prevent halitosis-causing bacteria from forming. If you smoke, bad breath is one of many health concerns that may affect your decision to quit. Since smoking can cause vitamin C deficiency, which could be contributing to your bad breath, taking a vitamin C supplement may help.
It is also important to understand that infamous bad breath causers – such as onions and garlic – often live up their reputations. Once you begin to digest them, their odor-causing chemicals are absorbed into your blood stream. As they travel through your circulatory system, they may be transferred to your lungs and become detectable in your breath. When this happens, you may be stuck with an unfortunate odor for two days no matter how often you use your toothbrush!
Products like breath sprays, mints and mouth wash are also great ways to mask bad breath on the run but will not treat its root cause and may wear off quickly. If you notice that you are developing chronic bad breath, it is a good idea to speak with your dentist.
If your halitosis is caused by periodontal disease, your dentist can offer a gum disease treatment to relieve symptoms or may refer you to a periodontist to address the underlying cause of your bad breath. If you are prone to heavy dental plaque build up, your dentist may recommend that you use a special antimicrobial mouthwash. Tooth decay can also cause bad breath, so consult your dentist if you don’t smell an improvement after a few days.