Bad breath happens to almost everybody, even to people who don’t care to admit it. While chronic bad breath (also known as halitosis) might have more serious causes, occasional bad breath can be prevented fairly easily with good oral care.
What are common bad breath causes?
If you suffer from chronic, severe bad breath, also known as halitosis, it's important to identify the cause so you can determine an effective treatment.
Halitosis has many causes, including the following:
- Tobacco use. If you smoke, quit. Your bad breath may be due to other causes, too, but tobacco use is a guarantee of bad breath. If you are ready to quit, ask your doctor or dentist for advice and support.
- What you eat, or don't eat. Certain foods, such as garlic, contribute to bad breath, but only temporarily. Once they are absorbed into the bloodstream, the smell is expelled through the breath, but the odors remain until the body processes the food, so there’s no quick fix.
- Dry mouth. If your mouth is extremely dry, there is not enough saliva to wash away excess food particles and bacteria, which can cause an unpleasant smell if they build up on the teeth.
- Infections. Bad breath that seems to have no other cause may indicate an infection elsewhere in the body. If you have chronic bad breath and your dentist rules out any oral problems, see your doctor for an evaluation.
Bad breath can be a sign of a range of conditions including respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis or bronchitis, diabetes, or liver and kidney problems, so it's important not to ignore the problem.
The best way to improve bad breath is to follow a thorough oral care routine including twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing to remove the food particles and bacteria that can cause bad breath. Mouthwashes only improve bad breath for the short term, and if you have a chronic problem, your dentist may suggest an antimicrobial rinse to help keep bacteria at bay.
Ways to protect against bad breath
- Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with an Oral-B Electric Toothbrush to remove plaque bacteria. Follow up with a good tongue brushing. Pay special attention to the back of your tongue, where most odour-causing bacteria are found.
- Floss effectively to help remove food particles. If reaching back teeth is difficult, a floss holder can help.
- Round out your routine with a mouthwash that fights bad breath to keep your mouth at its freshest.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The amount of water you need will vary based on your daily activity level and the number of medications you take that cause dry mouth.
- Chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production. Eating a mint is a temporary but less recommended method for breath freshening because it can leave a sugary residue behind.
- Chronic bad breath may be a symptom of a more serious condition, so you should consult a dental professional or medical professional.
- Learn which foods can cause bad breath.
- Consider limiting behaviours that can intensify bad breath, such as drinking alcohol or smoking.
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