What causes bad breath?
Everyone gets bad breath from time to time, but for some, this is a persistent and embarrassing issue that doesn’t go away even after brushing. Typically, this is a result of poor dental health habits, but can also be a sign of other health issues. The most common reasons for bad breath are certain foods like garlic or onions, odor-causing bacteria on the back of the tongue, periodontal disease, dry mouth (Xerostomia), tobacco products, and health conditions like respiratory infections, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, etc.
What are the symptoms of chronic bad breath?
The main symptom is a bad odor that is considered beyond a socially acceptable level and the odor is persistent no matter how often you brush your teeth. A good way to gauge if you have bad breath is to lick your wrist, leave it dry, and then smell it. If a bad smell on this area of the wrist is present, it is likely you have chronic bad breath.
What can I do at home?
You can take necessary steps at home to prevent or decrease bad breath. As always, you should brush at least twice a day and floss daily. However, brushing right before bed is the highest priority because plaque and bacteria can fester throughout the night due to decreased saliva production. Along with your teeth and gums, your tongue is also prone to causing bad breath. The tongue can have high amounts of bacteria and can increase in numbers when not properly cleaned. Using a tongue scraper can help remove a majority of the bacteria.
Some people are prone to bacteria build-up and this results in more instances of bad breath. You can balance your oral microbiome and the bacteria in your mouth by avoiding processed foods and added sugars, and by eating a diet based on whole foods. If you’re a smoker, cutting back or quitting entirely will help alleviate bad breath and is good for your overall health too. Keep your saliva flowing by eating healthy foods that make you chew. Carrots and apples require a lot of saliva. You can also chew sugar-free gum or sugar-free candies.
You should also avoid certain foods like garlic, onions, pickles, certain spices and condiments, and any other foods that have odor-causing compounds. These compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream and later released when exhaled.
What dental treatments can help?
If you’ve been experiencing chronic bad breath for some time now, make an appointment with your dentist. Regular checkups allow your dentist to detect any issues like gum disease or dry mouth and prevent them from becoming a serious problem. Staying consistent with your dental cleanings will help keep your bad breath under control.
It is possible that your gums are the key to bad breath problems. Deep pockets form in the gums and result in a larger presence of bacteria. A routine cleaning may not be enough to clean out all the plaque and bacteria that has built up under the gums. This condition must be treated at a dental office with a procedure called a scaling and root planing (SRP). During the scaling and root planing the tartar or plaque that has built up around and under your gums is removed, which results in less odor and inflammation at the gumline.
Teeth that are overlapping will create little traps for bacteria and food, making it harder to keep clean. Straightened teeth are easier to clean and less prone to causing bad breath. An effective treatment that will also help to gently and discreetly realign your teeth are clear aligners like Invisalign or ClearCorrect. Clear aligner treatment can help you improve your oral hygiene and prevent bad breath.
Bad breath happens to everyone. While it can be embarrassing, most cases can be resolved with better oral hygiene care or making changes to your lifestyle. However, if the problem persists, then you should visit your local Tigard dentist as soon as possible to determine the cause.