In almost every social situation, there is one thing most people are concerned about: halitosis, better known as bad breath. It can be embarrassing for you, uncomfortable to other people, and potentially a deal breaker for a job interview or date. To make it even more difficult to manage, our bodies have a great way of blocking out constant smells, making it very hard to determine if we have bad breath before it’s too late.
How do I know if I have bad breath?
You can easily test how your breath smells to others with this simple test. Lick part of your arm and smell it after about 10 seconds. Now, licking your arm in public may seem weird (and have its own social consequences), this test can give you a good indication of how your breath smells. However, it may not always be accurate. The best thing you can do is be aware of what causes bad breath and prevent it before it happens to you.
What Causes Bad Breath?
The most common cause of bad breath is straightforward; you have a dirty mouth. Bacteria live in your mouth, and when you eat, they eat. These odors are made worse by your tongue, which acts like a fleshy dish sponge, absorbing food particles and bacterial byproducts.
If you think this is your issue–and it is best place to start–the best remedy is to brush and floss daily. This will help eliminate leftovers for the bacteria to eat. To further eliminate any odor, open your mouth and look at the back of your tongue. If looks like it’s covered in a white or brown substance, this could be the main source of your bad breath. Brush as far back on your tongue as you can with your toothbrush, or use a tongue scraper, which will do the job more efficiently.
Saliva keeps the mouth clean by washing away bacteria, plaque, and keeping the acidic levels in your mouth at the proper level. If your mouth is chronically dry, bacteria can take over, leading to bad breath. If you are experiencing dry mouth, be sure you are drinking plenty of water. Additionally, check to see if any medication you are taking causes dry mouth. If so, talk to your doctor about solutions or a potential change in medication, if possible.
Specific Types of Food
There are certain types of food that cause bad breath. No matter what you do, you won’t be able to avoid the unwelcome baggage they carry. Coffee, tuna, onion, and garlic have a tendency to stick around even after you brush your teeth. For example, as garlic is digested, sulfur compounds permeate your lungs and skin, meaning there isn’t much you can do to hide the smell. For the sake of everyone around you, don’t go to hot yoga after eating a clove of garlic.
Bad breath can also be a sign of something more significant. If you have ruled out the issues above, bad breath (along with other symptoms) can be related to diabetes, gum disease, kidney disease, and many more chronic conditions. If you think your bad breath is connected to a more serious ailment, contact your family doctor to learn more.
What can the dentist do for bad breath?
Dentists are able to look at your mouth and see what the potential cause of your bad breath is. They will have the expertise to notice if it’s plaque, debris on your tongue, or periodontal disease. They can also prescribe you antimicrobial toothpaste and mouthwash to take care of the issue. The dentist may determine that the issue may not be located in your mouth, and would then refer you to your family doctor.
Come visit Dr. Weber at Douglas B. Weber, DDS if you have any more questions or concerns about halitosis.
The wondering and not knowing is stressful. The sudden unexpected confirmation is humiliating. And trying to cover it up feels futile.
Bad breath — we all suffer from it at some point in our lives, but why? What does it mean? And how do we get rid of it? Often it comes on without warning, and it’s identified with a grimace and a turn of the head during close conversation, when a spouse or partner rejects a kiss, or worse yet, when your beloved child publicly announces, “Your breath stinks!” at the tippy top of their tiny but strong lungs.
The following are four common causes and remedies for bad breath, as well as an important “Did you know?” that you won’t want to miss. (Hint: Bad breath may be your body’s way of sending out an SOS.)
Causes of Bad Breath
Dry Mouth: Prolonged sleep, dehydration, and some medications can lead to dry mouth. When the mouth becomes dry, bacteria begin to break down dead cells on the tongue — a process that emits a foul odor.
Insufficient Oral Hygiene: Though bad breath is usually caused by bacteria on the tongue, if bits of food get stuck in your teeth, the same bacteria that attack dead cells on your tongue will build up on your teeth and create an unpleasant scent.
Crash Diets and Fasting: Fasting and diets that cause the body to break down fats rapidly will release ketones, causing a condition called ketoacidosis, which can create an unpleasant, fruity odor that is carried on the breath.
Food Choices: Onion and garlic are two foods that are well-known causes of bad breath. What most people don’t realize is that the foul smell is caused by the sulfur compounds in these foods. Once absorbed by the body, their odor is carried on the breath for hours.
Remedies for Bad Breath
Clean Your Whole Mouth: Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once is key to avoiding bad breath, but something is missing from this routine: your tongue. Bacteria that grow in your mouth are the most common cause of bad breath, and your tongue is a big part of your mouth. Make sure to brush and clean it twice daily if you want to stay fresh.
Drink Water: Drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated and stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth. Saliva helps wash away food particles and works to keep your mouth clean. The more you drink, the fresher your breath will taste and smell, and the healthier you will feel overall.
Adjust Your Diet: Avoiding food that causes bad breath, like the aforementioned garlic and onions, only helps your breath so much. Filling your plate with foods packed with vitamin C will take you to the next level of fresh by creating an environment that is inhospitable to mouth bacteria. Some of the crunchier vegetables and fruits will also act as nature’s toothbrush and knock particles of food off your teeth, keeping them extra clean.
Did You Know?
If you have a case of halitosis you just can’t seem to get rid of, it may be your body’s way of telling you that something serious is going on. Several health conditions that are associated with bad breath and require immediate attention from a health professional include:
- Severe periodontal disease
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Serious lung conditions
If you have recurring bad breath or are struggling with a difficult case of halitosis, we can help you identify the cause. Give Douglas B. Weber, DDS a call at (661) 952-7865 to set up a quick consultation. A good cleaning might be all you need to refresh your smile and your confidence.