Dental Health

Halitosis: How to Banish Bad Breath

If you’ve ever enjoyed a tuna sandwich with extra onions on your lunch break and then had to return to work for a face-to-face meeting, you know the embarrassment and discomfort that bad breath can cause. Also called halitosis, bad breath affects all of us at one point or another. Everyone wakes up with “morning breath,” and depending on what you’re eating and how your dental hygiene is, you might also experience it at other times. When halitosis is a common theme in your daily life, however, it’s worth doing something about it. Check out these tips on banishing bad breath.

Step Up Your Oral Hygiene Regimen

Be honest: Are you brushing and flossing as much as you should be? If you skip flossing more often than not or you aren’t brushing well before bed, that means that food debris and bacteria are partying it up inside of your mouth. This can lead to bad breath any time of the day. In addition, if you don’t brush and floss regularly, then the problem might not be solved as easily as catching up on your regimen; over time, this bacteria can accumulate under the gums and cause gingivitis, which is early periodontal disease. It can also cause infections in the gums and tooth decay, both of which can cause some funky breath.

In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Brush two or three times per day and floss once, preferably before bed. If you’re past the point of prevention, then see your dentist promptly. He or she can get you back on track by providing a deep-down cleaning and, if needed, treatment for tooth decay and gum disease.

Keep the Saliva Flowing

Throughout the course of the day, you might develop not-so-fresh breath. This happens because you might be eating various foods, dealing with the dry mouth that accompanies stress, and maybe letting yourself get dehydrated if you’re not drinking enough. All of these can lead to halitosis. Try chewing sugar-free gum to keep your saliva flowing. You can also sip water frequently, which will not only keep your mouth moist, but also wash away food debris that can start to smell after a while.

See Your Doctor

If general improved oral hygiene isn’t helping your bad breath situation, then it’s worth making an appointment with your doctor. Sometimes a condition like diabetes or kidney disease can show up as bad breath. Also, acid reflux and stomach ulcers can cause halitosis. It’s good to get these conditions ruled out or confirmed if you’re suffering from chronic bad breath. If one of these is a problem, then treating the condition can treat your halitosis.

Another cause of bad breath can be medications that you are taking. Don’t stop taking anything without your doctor’s advice, but if you have recently begun a new medicine and are now noticing an “off” taste in your mouth, it could be the problem. Talk to your doctor about switching medications if it’s very bothersome. He or she can also give you some tips on minimizing the bad taste and smell.

Halitosis can be embarrassing and frustrating, but it’s usually treatable. Make an appointment with your dentist, then move along to seeing your doctor if halitosis persists despite keeping up with a good dental health routine.

Creative Commons image by peasap (Flickr).