Before the 1920s, people just lived with bad breath. It wasn’t until Listerine created a marketing campaign using a dusty old Latin word – halitosis – that made people think they needed treatment. Bad breath went from a pesky, personal problem to an embarrassing but common social stigma. An estimated 1 in 4 people will experience bad breath regularly.
What Causes Bad Breath?
- Food. Your mouth is full of bacteria, and these bacteria feed residual food and drink particles in your mouth. Without regular brushing and flossing—and sometimes with—bacteria can accumulate and release sulfur compounds that give your breath a foul odor.
- Tobacco. Smoking alone leaves an unpleasant smell, but smokers and oral tobacco users are at a higher risk for gum disease, another leading cause of bad breath. Because smoking affects your sense of smell, you might not notice bad breath when it’s present.
- Gum Disease. When the cavity-causing bacteria called plaque coats your teeth it can irritate your gums. If left untreated, it can form sticky plaque-filled pockets below your gum line that trap odor-causing bacteria.
- Dry Mouth. Saliva plays an important role in your oral health by cleansing your mouth and removing bad breath causing particles. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep and gets worse if you sleep with your mouth open, though many people suffer from persistent dry mouth even during the day.
- Medications. There are more than 1,800 prescription medications that list dry mouth as a common side effect, but some medications cause bad breath when they’re broken down by the body, releasing chemicals carried out on your breath.
- Nose and Throat. Occasionally, the bad breath source can come from small stones made by your tonsils that are mostly harmless but produce a strong odor. Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinus or throat, can also contribute towards bad breath.
- Medical Conditions. Despite brushing and flossing regularly, some medical conditions can cause unique, unpleasant mouth odors. Diabetes, liver or kidney disease, some cancers, and gastric reflux each carry their own strange scent on the breath.
- Being sick. Occasionally, the bad breath source can come from small stones made by your tonsils that are mostly harmless but produce a strong odor. Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinus, or throat, as well as symptoms like postnasal drip, can increase the amount of bacteria in your mouth and make your breath smell.
How Do I Know if My Breath Stinks?
Assessing your own breath is difficult. If you are concerned that you may have bad breath, you can enlist the help of a friend, relative, or partner to let you know.
Does your floss smell bad after flossing?
Another way to investigate whether or not your breath smells is to evaluate your floss. If, after flossing, your floss smells bad, it may be the result of food particles that were not removed and that have begun to rot. A bad smell may also mean there is tooth decay or gum problems that are harboring odor-causing bacteria.
How Can I Get Rid of Bad Breath?
Although there are a plethora of over-the-counter products like mouthwashes and rinses, gum, or mints that boast their bad-breath destroying power, many of them only fix the problem temporarily because they are not treating the underlying problem.
The best thing you can do for your mouth, bad breath or not, is to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each. The reality is that most people brush for 30-45 seconds at a time and sometimes only once a day. Floss once a day as well, to keep your gums healthy and to get rid of stinky food particles hiding in your mouth. Add brushing after each meal to your regimen if bad breath persists.
There are several tools available to help cut down on bad breath, like a tongue scraper that takes away the layer of bacteria on your tongue. If you don’t have a tongue scraper, you can always use your toothbrush. Be sure to replace your toothbrush every three months or 48 hours after being sick to keep it from building up its own bacteria.
Avoid dry mouth by staying hydrated with water and limiting your consumption of coffee, soda, and alcohol. Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on hard candies can help promote saliva production to help clean your mouth. If your dry mouth persists, your dentist may recommend artificial saliva to help with hydration.
Mouthwash can help kill bacteria and neutralize bad breath odors, but it’s only a temporary solution and should not be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing. The longer you wait to brush and floss, the more stinky food particles stay in your mouth.
Treating bad breath at Dental Depot Arizona
You don’t have to live with bad breath. With three Phoenix area locations, Dental Depot makes it easy for you and your family to get the dental care you need to keep bad breath at bay. From routine checkups and cleanings to fillings and preventative treatments, the caring professionals at Dental Depot have you covered with a full complement of dental services. All of our offices are accepting new patients, and, with flexible scheduling, Saturday appointments, and the option to schedule everyone in your family at the same time, we make it even easier for you to join our family.
To find the Phoenix location nearest you or to schedule an appointment, click here.