If you’ve ever had that not-so-fresh feeling in the mouth while talking to someone, you are not alone. Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is a common condition that affects 50% of the people at some point in their lives. And while it’s usually not a cause of concern, it can really affect the social life of a person and reduce his self-esteem and self-confidence.
If you have bad breath, you may easily blame the garlic or onion you had for lunch. But the truth is, food is only one cause. Do you feel like your dragon breath is keeping people away from you? If yes, here is everything you need to know about it so you can treat and prevent it.
How to tell if you have bad breath
If you suspect you have bad breath but not sure about it, a self test can help you. Lick the inside of your wrist and let it dry out. Sniff your wrist and see. If your wrist smells bad, your breath does too.
Causes of Bad Breath
Bad breath can be caused by several reasons but the most common include the following.
You breathe what you eat
The common belief that garlic and onion causes a bad odor in the mouth isn’t a false one. It’s true in fact. The food you eat starts breaking up in your mouth and as they are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, they are eventually carried to your lungs and given off in your breath. Hence, if you eat something with a strong odor, the odor remains until that food is digested and passed out of your body.
So, if you are really conscious about your breath or if you have an important social event to attend, make sure you skip all strong odors.
Poor oral hygiene has bad consequences
Another common reason is the build-up of bacteria in your mouth. Due to poor oral hygiene, food particles remain in the mouth creating an ideal place for bacteria to harbor. When bacteria comes in contact with food particles, it breaks them down causing foul smelling breath.
Nasal mucus attracts bacteria
Post nasal drip is a common cause of bad breath, which involves mucus secretions from your nose and throat. These mucus secretions are an excellent food source for bacteria thus, causing foul smelling breath.
Smoking has way too many harms to list them all. But it would be true to say that it causes havoc to your body, including your mouth. It’s the leading cause of gum disease, leads to teeth loss, stains your teeth and causes bad breath.
Less saliva means more bacteria
Bad breath is also because of dry mouth, a condition characterized by low amount of saliva in the mouth. Saliva is necessary to neutralize acids produced by plaque, moisten the mouth, and wash away dead cells that accumulate in the mouth. When saliva is not produced adequately, these dead cells decompose and cause bad breath.
Other than these most common reasons, bad breath can also be a cause of some underlying medical condition. If your bad breath is persistent and doesn’t go away after changing your lifestyle and improving oral hygiene, it’s recommended that you visit a doctor.
How To Prevent Or Treat Bad Breath
Preventing bad breath is actually easy if you know what’s causing it. However, here are some things you can do to prevent or treat it.
Practice good oral hygiene
Bacteria buildup is the most common cause of bad breath. Hence, practicing good oral hygiene brings a huge difference.
Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush or rinse after you eat and don’t forget to brush your tongue too. Floss your teeth once a day to remove food particles from between teeth. Also, rinse with an anti-bacterial mouthwash to remove bacteria from the mouth. If you use dentures, remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before using them again next morning.
Visit your dentist regularly
You should visit your dentist every six months for an oral exam. The dentist will check for other oral problems that may be causing bad breath like dry mouth or periodontal disease.
Kick your smoking habit
If you smoke, it’s time to kick your habit now. Smoking can cause havoc in your mouth, not mentioning the hoard of other problems it causes in your body.
Be wary of what you eat
Keep a log of the foods you are eating. If you think a certain food might be causing bad breath, try avoiding it and see if it makes a difference. Similarly, keep a log of the medications you are taking as some drugs play a role in creating mouth odors.
Drink lots of water
Drinking more water increases the production of saliva in the mouth, which cleanses the mouth and removes bacteria. You can also try eating sugarless gums or sucking on sugarless lozenges to increase the production of saliva in the mouth.
With these simple lifestyle changes, you can treat and prevent the uncomfortable problem of bad breath.