If there’s one thing that most people dread, it’s discovering that they have bad breath. Whether you’re told by a caring friend, a painfully blunt child or had a feeling your breath was odiferous and conducted a self-test, no one wants to have offensive breath.
First, know that you’re not alone. It’s estimated that anywhere from 50 to 65 percent of the population has bad breath. Although that may not be too reassuring, at least you know it’s a common problem that thousands of others face every day.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to fix this problem. Listed below are several common causes of bad breath and what you can do to combat it. Whether it’s as involved as combating a medical problem or as simple as upping your water intake, there are solutions that can help you improve your breath.
Causes of Halitosis
There are many factors that can contribute to halitosis aka bad breath. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Not Brushing and/or Flossing Enough: If you don’t brush or floss your teeth regularly, it causes food particles to become trapped in your mouth, contributing to bad odors. Over time, this can lead to bacteria that causes gum disease and tooth decay.
- Eating Certain Foods: Strong-smelling foods, such as onions and garlic, can contribute to bad breath, as can certain beverages like coffee. Some cheeses and fish can also be to blame, as are strong spices like curry powder.
- Medical Conditions: There are myriad medical conditions that can lead to halitosis, everything from infection of the gums, throat or respiratory tract to sinusitis or bronchitis. Diabetes, liver or kidney disease, lactose intolerance and acid reflux can also cause bad breath.
- Having a Dry Mouth: Dry mouth can lead to bad breath because the decreased flow of saliva inhibits the ability to remove odor-causing food or other particles from the mouth.
- Smoking: Tobacco products wreak havoc on your mouth, staining the teeth and irritating the gums. It can also contribute to tooth decay.
- Morning Breath: Most everyone experiences morning breath. It’s caused by a buildup of bacteria in the mouth overnight or by mouth breathing, which causes dry mouth.
Once you have an idea of what is causing your bad breath, you can better combat it.
Beating Bad Breath
First of all, if a medical condition is causing bad breath, be sure to get evaluated by a physician in order to treat the cause, not the symptom. You’ll want to treat the disease or clear up any infections in order to start seeing improvement.
If your halitosis is not caused by a medical condition, there are many things that you can do to improve the scent of your breath. Try one or a combination of these to halt that halitosis:
- Brush Your Teeth and Tongue: Be sure to brush at least twice every day, or after every meal if you need to, with a fluoride toothpaste. While you’re at it, brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper to help get rid of odor-causing bacteria.
- Floss: Flossing should not be an option; it should be mandatory. Floss daily to remove bacteria from those hard-to-reach places between your teeth.
- Visit Your Dentist: Get to the dentist twice a year to prevent and treat any causes of bad breath.
- Stop Smoking: There are so many reasons to kick the habit, including fresher breath.
- Keep Your Mouth Moist: Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth hydrated and healthy, and chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production and combat dry mouth.
- Avoid Stinky Foods: You don’t need to avoid your favorites forever, but if you’re going to be in a social situation and want to avoid embarrassment, steer clear of those onions.
- Use a Mouthwash: A good mouthwash will temporarily improve your breath in a pinch.
- Chew on Parsley: Parsley is a natural remedy for bad breath. It’s loaded with chlorophyll, which is a natural deodorizer that fights the toxins that cause halitosis.
These remedies should help to neutralize those odors in your mouth and improve bad breath, making you feel and breathe better.