One of the most unwanted personal characteristics is bad breath, and most people would go to any length to avoid being told that their mouth gives off an unpleasant smell. Knowing how to keep your breath fresh prevents your breath from offending others. In fact, bad breath can significantly impact a relationship negatively because talking about it is often very uncomfortable. Bad breath can be temporarily masked with mouthwash and breath-freshening gum, but chronic bad breath, also known as “halitosis,” is often a sign of a more serious medical condition or of poor health habits.
Oral hygiene problems are the most significant contributors to bad breath, so practicing proper oral hygiene is the best way to halt this problem. Regularly brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist minimizes dental issues and prevents them from developing into severe problems.
The most common dental conditions that lead to bad breath are gingivitis, dental caries, periodontitis, tooth decay, and dry mouth. All of these conditions result in an influx of bacteria into the mouth, and bacteria is frequently the cause of all sorts of foul odors. Dry mouth contributes to the development of bad breath because it reduces the amount of saliva, which is one of the body’s natural mechanisms for regulating bacteria and fungi in the mouth.
Several non-dental health conditions may also result in bad breath. If bad breath remains even after you have improved your oral hygiene practices, you may have an underlying medical condition. Diabetes, bronchitis, acid reflux, liver disease, and a variety of infections also cause bad breath. Under these circumstances, treating bad breath necessitates treating the underlying condition, so it is important to be properly diagnosed. Generally, once the underlying condition is addressed, bad breath clears up quickly after proper treatment.
However, regardless of how healthy you are, you are bound to experience temporary bad breath at some point. Everyone suffers from the occasional bout of “morning breath“, for example. When we sleep, because we are not eating or drinking the bacteria in our mouths temporarily flourish. In addition, the flow of saliva changes while sleeping which also increases the amount of bacteria in our mouths and affects our breath. Not much can be done to prevent bad breath upon awakening, but the odor can be minimized by practicing good oral hygiene and eating properly.
Another potential cause of bad breath in healthy people is food. Eating properly helps maintain fresh breath, and what you eat on a regular basis naturally affects how your breath smells. If you consume odor-causing foods, such as coffee or onions, you may develop a persistent bad breath problem despite being healthy overall. In addition, consumption of alcohol or tobacco products causes persistent breath problems.
While certain foods cause bad breath, certain foods also fight it. To avoid bad breath, stay away from pungent, odorous foods such as garlic, onion, curry, cheese, peppers, and others. Foods such as celery, apples, and raw carrots have the opposite effect of cleansing your mouth and getting rid of odors. You can also prevent bad breath after eating by chewing sugarless gum regularly, as this increases saliva flow and removes odorous materials from your mouth. Likewise, staying hydrated by drinking a lot of water helps cleanse not only your mouth but also your entire body of impurities.
Although bad breath is sometimes an unpleasant fact of life, in most cases it is easy to prevent or treat. Take care of yourself and be kind to others by making sure that you know how to maintain fresh breath and avoid causing discomfort for those with whom you live and work.
About the author:
Dr. Joseph Zelig, D.D.S., is a Board Certified Periodontist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. As the dentist NYC residents trust, Dr. Zelig is currently practicing at Smile in the City located in Manhattan, New York.