Bad Breath: What Causes It and How Do You Cure It?
At Iqaluit Dental Clinic, we believe bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is a common problem that affects a large number of people. It can be a source of embarrassment and can negatively impact your social life, personal relationships, and even your professional life. The good news is that bad breath can be cured or controlled by taking appropriate measures.
The causes of bad breath
Bad breath can be caused by a number of factors, including poor oral hygiene, dental problems, smoking, certain foods, and medical conditions. Let’s take a closer look at these factors:
1. Poor oral hygiene – The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, food particles can get stuck in between your teeth, which can lead to the growth of bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria break down the food particles and produce foul-smelling gases, which result in bad breath.
2. Dental problems – Dental problems such as gum disease, cavities, and abscesses can also cause bad breath. Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth, which can lead to inflammation and infection of the gums. This can cause bad breath, as well as other symptoms such as bleeding gums, swollen gums, and tooth sensitivity.
3. Smoking – Smoking is not only harmful to your health, but it can also cause bad breath. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can remain in your mouth and lungs for an extended period, leading to an unpleasant smell. Additionally, smoking can cause gum disease and tooth decay, which can also contribute to bad breath.
4. Certain foods – Certain foods, such as garlic, onions, and spices, can also cause bad breath. These foods contain volatile compounds that are absorbed into your bloodstream and then exhaled through your lungs, resulting in bad breath. In addition, dairy products and meat can also cause bad breath, as they are high in protein and can be difficult to digest. If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet or fasting, your body may produce a chemical called ketones, which can cause bad breath.
5. Medical conditions – Several medical conditions can cause bad breath. Chronic sinus infections, respiratory tract infections, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can all contribute to bad breath. Certain liver and kidney diseases can also cause bad breath. If you suffer from persistent bad breath, it is essential to see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
6. Dry mouth – Saliva plays a vital role in neutralizing the bacteria in your mouth, and a lack of it can cause bad breath. Dry mouth, medically known as xerostomia, can be caused by certain medications, dehydration, or diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome. If you suffer from dry mouth, it is essential to stay hydrated and to chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production.
How to cure bad breath
If you are struggling with bad breath, it’s important to take steps to address the underlying causes and find a solution that works for you. Let’s look at the steps you can take to cure bad breath below:
1. Improve your oral hygiene – One of the most common causes of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. If you are not brushing and flossing regularly, bacteria can build up in your mouth and produce unpleasant odours.
To improve your oral hygiene, make sure to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and use an antibacterial mouthwash. The tongue can be a breeding ground for bacteria, especially towards the back. Thus, you can also consider adding a tongue scraper to your routine to remove bacteria and debris from your tongue.
Additionally, chewing gum can stimulate saliva production, which can help wash away bacteria and freshen your breath. Look for sugar-free gum to avoid contributing to tooth decay.
2. Watch what you eat and drink – As discussed earlier, certain foods and drinks can contribute to bad breath, including garlic, onions, coffee, and alcohol. If you notice that your bad breath is worse after consuming these items, try to limit your intake or avoid them altogether. Instead, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, which can help to neutralize odours in your mouth. Drinking plenty of water can also help to flush out bacteria and keep your mouth hydrated.
3. Address underlying medical conditions – In some cases, bad breath may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as gum disease, sinusitis, or acid reflux. If you have tried improving your oral hygiene and watching your diet but are still struggling with bad breath, it’s important to speak with your doctor or dentist.
They can perform an exam and determine if there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Depending on the cause of your bad breath, your doctor or dentist may recommend treatment options such as antibiotics or other medications, surgery, or lifestyle changes.
4. Quit smoking – Quitting smoking is a crucial step towards eliminating bad breath, as cigarette smoke can leave a lingering, stale odour in the mouth, throat, and lungs. While quitting smoking can be challenging, there are several strategies that can help you quit for good.
These include nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches or gum, prescription medications, counselling, and support groups. By seeking out these resources and developing a personalized quitting plan, you can successfully quit smoking and enjoy fresher breath and better overall health.
5. Visit your dentist regularly – Regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential for maintaining good oral health and preventing bad breath. Your dentist can remove plaque and tartar buildup that can contribute to bad breath, as well as detect and treat any underlying dental problems. They can also provide advice on how to improve your oral hygiene and prevent future issues.
At Iqaluit Dental Clinic, we suggest you speak with your doctor or dentist if you are struggling with bad breath despite improving your oral hygiene and making dietary changes. By treating the root cause of your bad breath, you can enjoy fresher breath and better overall health.