You’ve got an important interview coming up-one that you hope will lead to fantastic new opportunities. You carefully prepare, arrive a few minutes early, and anxiously wait for the door to open. Eventually, you find yourself across a desk from the interviewer. You shake hands, open your mouth to say hello, and immediately feel ashamed. The smell of your bad breath has just filled the room.
Bad breath, or halitosis, happens to most people, and it strikes at the most inconvenient times. You don’t want your stale breath to ruin that important interview, date, or special moment with friends or a loved one. But how do you keep your breath fresh, even if it’s been a few hours since you last brushed and flossed?
Bad breath is usually caused by bacteria in your mouth. Your saliva is filled with bacteria at all times, but if that bacteria builds up, it can give off a foul odor that hurts your reputation and your relationships.
It’s difficult to know if you have bad breath because your nose adjusts to your body’s odors extremely quickly. And to be frank, everyone has bad breath from time to time, like just after waking up or eating something garlicky. But you may have been told by a trusted love one that you have bad breath frequently, and if so, it’s time to take action.
If you’re concerned that you have frequent halitosis and that those in your life are too embarrassed to tell you, try this little test: smell your floss after you use it this evening. If your floss smells badly (or has blood on it), your breath almost certainly smells stale and sour.
So you have bad breath-now what? Understanding the causes of that smelly bacteria buildup can sometimes help you to freshen your breath. Here are some main causes of halitosis:
A dry mouth. Your saliva serves an important purpose: it rinses your mouth and washes away bacteria and food particles that cling to your teeth and gums. But if you have a dry mouth, your mouth doesn’t produce the saliva it needs to keep breath fresh. Breathing through your mouth, taking certain medications, or suffering from a salivary gland problem could be the cause.
Gum disease. Some bacteria in your mouth can build up to form a sticky yellow substance called plaque. This bacteria is a hotbed for disease, and it can damage your gums and decay your teeth. Many people can dislodge the plaque by brushing and flossing, but some people have an overabundance of plaque or already have advanced gum disease.
Smoking. Tobacco is filled with chemicals that cause severe health problems and a long list of unfortunate symptoms, one of which is bad breath. Smoking also causes loss of taste and smell, lung and throat cancer, and faster tooth decay. If you smoke frequently and have bad breath, you don’t have to look much further for a cause.
Food. Some foods are smellier than others, especially when mixed with the natural chemistry that occurs in your mouth, throat, and stomach. Foods with garlic or onion often cause bad breath, as does coffee. Additionally, all kinds of foods leave debris in your mouth, even after you’ve swallowed. These remnants often cause that stale breath smell.
Eliminating Bad Breath
There is an additional cause of halitosis that you should be aware of. In some cases, halitosis is a warning sign of a more severe medical condition; everything from acid reflux to diabetes, kidney disease, or a serious sinus condition. That’s why it’s so important that you see your dentist frequently.
If you suffer from the effects of bad breath, your dentist can identify the cause of halitosis and ensure that it isn’t the result of a more serious medical condition. If he or she suspects that something is wrong, you may need to speak with your physician to learn more.
In most cases, however, halitosis is simply the cause of smelly bacteria in your mouth, and it can almost always be treated through your own efforts. Your dentist will help you learn about how you can personally eliminate bad breath, but here are some ideas that often do the trick:
- Brush and floss. You should be cleaning your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day. If you still suffer from bad breath, you may want to brush and floss after eating as well.
- Scrape your tongue. Your tongue collects all kinds of bacteria-in fact, if you stick your tongue out, you’ll probably see a coating on the back of your tongue that looks a bit white or brownish. Scrape away that coating with a tongue scraper or toothbrush, and your breath will immediately improve.
- Clean your dentures or retainer each day.
- Use a mouthwash to kill bacteria or dislodge food debris. (Remember, don’t ever replace brushing and flossing with a mouthwash rinse.) Drink lots of water, chew a sugar-free gum, or eat healthy snacks. Doing so stimulates your saliva flow and helps keep your breath fresh. Stop smoking and avoid smelly foods.
Your dentist will help you overcome bad breath. Don’t live with the embarrassment of stale, stinky breath-get help today!