Halitosis, or bad breath, is a common problem that most people have experienced at one time or another. Bad breath in itself isn’t a serious condition — although it can cause embarrassment. Though in some cases, it may be a sign of an underlying health problem. One of the best ways to avoid bad breath is to determine what’s causing the problem and then take measures to fix it. From an oral infection to excessive plaque buildup, many factors can cause bad breath. Improve your breath and overall oral health with these tips for keeping breath clean and fresh.
Be Diligent About Brushing and Flossing
Not brushing enough or not brushing thoroughly can leave a collection of sticky buildup called plaque on your teeth. That plaque collects bacteria and can also trap food, resulting in bad breath. While you don’t want to brush your teeth too hard (since that can wear down enamel), you do need to spend two minutes brushing your pearly whites. Make sure you reach all surfaces of each tooth.
Many people don’t take time to floss. If you’re not flossing, plaque builds up between teeth where it’s tough to reach with a toothbrush. You should floss a minimum of once a day to remove this hard-to-reach plaque.
Scrape the Tongue to Eliminate Bacteria
A thin coating forms on the tongue, and while it’s normal, it’s the perfect host for bacteria. That bacteria leaves your breath smelling bad. You can brush your tongue with your toothbrush, although a tongue scraper works even better at removing the film, bacteria, dead cells and food debris that don’t disappear with brushing alone.
Swish Your Way to Better Breath
Since bacteria growth is a big cause of bad breath, anything you do to kill bacteria in your mouth can help keep breath fresher. While mouthwash tastes great and can cover up bad breath, be sure to purchase a mouthwash designed to kill bacteria. Swishing twice daily with an antibacterial mouthwash can stop bad breath where it starts. If you’re in a fix and don’t have mouthwash with you, swishing with water can help eliminate food particles that make breath smelly.
If you’re a smoker, your bad habit could be causing your breath’s odor — not to mention, it also can stain teeth, damage gums and cause oral cancer. Particles left from cigarettes make your mouth smell bad. Smoking can also increase bacteria growth in the mouth, which makes smoking doubly problematic. If you need assistance quitting, talk to your dentist about medications and programs that can help.
Since saliva contains enzymes that help eliminate bad bacteria, a dry mouth can result in bad breath. Make sure you stay hydrated to stimulate those salivary glands so the mouth stays moisturized. If you drink plenty of water and you still have dry mouth, consider the medications you’re taking. Some medications have the side effect of dry mouth. Your dentist may be able to recommend special products that help fight dryness. If you notice your mouth is especially dry when you wake up, you could be breathing with the mouth open. Talk to your doctor or dentist about solutions that can help you fix that dry mouth and bad breath.
Skip Foods That Cause Bad Breath
Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contain sulfur compounds that can cause bad breath. Unfortunately, brushing right after you eat these foods doesn’t always help. Avoid sour breath by skipping these foods. If you love garlic and onions, indulge on them when you’re on your own and avoid eating them right before you head to work or plan a visit with family or friends.
Keep Up With Routine Dental Visits
Regular dental visits are crucial to your overall oral health and to your fight against bad breath. Those regular cleanings help remove the plaque that can attract bacteria and cause bad breath. It’s impossible to get all that plaque with just brushing and flossing, so don’t skip regular cleanings. A regular checkup of your mouth is also important, since problems such as tooth decay and gum disease can contribute to bad breath. Catch these issues early, and they’re easier to treat so you can keep stinky breath at bay.
You don’t have to worry constantly about bad breath. Start using these tips to keep breath fresh and contact your dentist today to make sure you get seen for your next regular checkup.
This article was written by Omaha Oral Surgery