Everyone experiences bad breath once in a while. Whether it’s due to a cold that has you breathing out of your mouth instead of your nose or that everything bagel you had for breakfast, it’s impossible to avoid the occasional case of halitosis. This type of bad breath isn’t anything to be concerned about, but when you have chronic bad breath, it’s usually a sign of a dental or medical problem that needs attention. Here’s how to get rid of bad breath, and what to do if these tips don’t work.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene Habits
Nobody wants to hear that they aren't doing a good job brushing and flossing their teeth, but poor oral hygiene is at fault for many cases of halitosis. If you don't brush as thoroughly, as often, or as long as recommended, food and bacteria accumulate in your mouth, a combination that results in odor.
What does it mean to practice good oral hygiene? You should:
- Brush twice a day for two minutes, reaching the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
- Floss between all of your teeth at least once a day, reaching down to the gumline.
- Clean any buildup off of your tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper.
After brushing, you don't have to rinse with mouthwash, but if you choose to do so, make sure it's with an alcohol-free rinse. By drying out your mouth, alcohol-based mouthwashes can exacerbate bad breath.
See Your Dentist Regularly
During routine dental cleanings, plaque and tartar are removed from your teeth to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, two oral health conditions that can cause bad breath.
In addition, Dr. Luz offers a unique bad breath treatment program for patients who have chronic halitosis. This treatment begins by taking a saliva sample to identify the bacteria that is causing your bad breath and its location in your body. With these results, Dr. Luz is able to develop a customized treatment plan that addresses the root cause of your halitosis.
Prevent Dry Mouth
Saliva is important for your oral health. Throughout the day, your saliva rinses bacteria, food particles, and dead cells from your mouth. In a dry mouth that doesn’t have sufficient saliva, these materials build up, resulting in bad breath. A dry mouth can lead to bacterial overgrowth, which in turn leads to tooth decay and gum disease. Both cavities and gum disease also cause halitosis.
When dehydration causes dry mouth, the solution is simple: drink more water throughout the day and, when that isn't possible, stimulate saliva production with a sugar-free lozenge or gum. Dry mouth can also be caused by medications or health issues, in which case you may need to consult with your doctor. We can provide you with recommendations for moisturizing mouth rinses or even prescription medication to boost saliva production if your dry mouth is severe and uncomfortable.
Smoking—and tobacco use in general—is another common cause of halitosis. When you smoke, the odor from the cigarettes tends to linger on your breath; aside from this, smoking also produces dry mouth and we’ve already discussed how this can contribute to bad breath.
While there are certainly many more significant reasons to quit smoking, for some people, simply knowing that their habit is causing them to have bad breath is all the motivation they need.
What to Do When These Tips Don’t Help
If you've tried everything listed above and still have bad breath, it could be a sign of a medical issue. GERD, allergies, tonsil stones, chronic sinus infections, and other common health problems can all lead to halitosis. Once you've ruled out any dental cause for bad breath, make an appointment with your primary care physician for a health assessment.