People are embarrassed about having bad breath, but the truth is, if you’re human, you’ve had bad breath at some point in your life. Have seasonal allergies? Breathing through your mouth because your nose is congested causes halitosis. Love garlicky pasta dinners or hummus? You too have had bad breath. While we’d never recommend forgoing your favorite foods, we do have some other useful tips on how to prevent bad breath.
Prevent Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is one of the most prevalent reasons for bad breath; it has a myriad of causes, from the aforementioned mouth breathing to medications and radiation treatments. If the underlying cause of your dry mouth cannot be easily remedied, staying hydrated will help.
When your mouth is dry, you don’t have the saliva needed to sweep away food particles and bacteria throughout the day. This causes bad breath. Compounding the matter is that dry mouth can also lead to tooth decay and gum disease, two additional causes of bad breath.
If you suspect your halitosis is caused by dry mouth, stop using mouthwash that contains alcohol and instead switch to one formulated for dry mouth. Carry a bottle of water with you wherever you go to keep yourself hydrated and your breath fresh. When drinking water isn’t possible, sugarless gum or lozenges can help keep your saliva flowing.
Brush Two Minutes, Twice a Day
…and floss once a day too. The best defense against bad breath is a good offense, and that offense is good dental hygiene. If you’re not currently timing your brushing, start––two minutes is longer than you think it is. We recommend dividing the mouth into quadrants and spending 30 seconds brushing each. Brush the backs, fronts, and chewing surfaces of your teeth.
When it comes to flossing, whenever you find the time to make it work is better than nothing, but if you can, floss at night. It’s good to make sure any leftover food particles that have accumulated between your teeth throughout the day are cleared away before you go to sleep.
Some of our patients also like using a tongue scraper as part of their oral hygiene routines. The research on tongue scrapers is mixed, but at the very least, it’s a good idea to use your toothbrush to brush your tongue.
If you smoke, you probably know all the reasons to stop. We’ll add another to your list: smoking causes halitosis. It’s not just about having the smell of cigarette smoke on your breath––smoking is linked to gum disease, which, as discussed above, leads to bad breath.
Don’t Skip Your Routine Dental Exams
Because tooth decay and gum disease are two of the most common causes of bad breath, visiting us twice a year is one of the best ways to prevent halitosis. Cavities and gum disease are the result of bacteria colonizing in the mouth, which emits a foul odor. During your dental exams, we can spot decay and gum disease before it progresses into a more serious problem; we’ll also clean plaque from your teeth, which is another way to protect your oral health and keep your breath fresh.
When to See a Doctor
Sometimes bad breath isn’t a dental issue at all––it’s a medical one. Liver and kidney disease, tonsil stones, diabetes, gastric reflux, and postnasal drip can all cause halitosis. If you’ve tried the above tips and you haven’t gotten any results, it’s time to make an appointment with your primary care physician for a check-up.