First, we must discuss the reasons a person gets bad breath in the first place.
There are many things that can cause bad breath. Some of the most common causes include:
Food- As we all know, certain types of foods can cause bad breath. Some common culprits are onions, garlic, and certain spices. This happens because after you eat, tiny food particles stick in between and around your teeth and can lead to increased bacteria and a foul odor.
Dry Mouth- Saliva is extremely important in the health and functionality of the oral cavity. Saliva is responsible for cleansing the teeth and gums and helping the mouth stay at a neutral PH. When there is less saliva in the mouth to wash away bacteria and food particles, a bad odor can sometimes be noticed. Many people notice this frequently in the morning and it is commonly referred to as “morning breath”. Some people have chronic dry mouth throughout the day. This condition is known as Xerostomia. It is most commonly caused from certain types of diseases and treatments or medications. Xerostomia is difficult to manage and requires diligent dental home care and visits to the dentist to help prevent serious dental problems.
Medications- Some medications can cause dry mouth or “Xerostomia”, which as explained above, can directly lead to bad breath. Some medications can also cause a release of chemicals that can be excreted through the mouth and breath.
Poor Oral Hygiene– When you do not brush and floss on a daily basis, tiny food particles become lodged in and around your teeth and gums. As these particles break down, they can create a foul odor. Plaque is the white, sticky substance that you may notice on your teeth and next to your gums. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that naturally accumulates on teeth. When it is not removed on a daily basis, it can cause inflammation along the gumline (gingivitis). When it is left undisturbed, it can also migrate farther under the gums and begin to cause bone loss around the teeth and lead to the development of deep, plaque collecting gum pockets (periodontal disease). As you might imagine, this additional bacteria in the mouth and the deep, hard to reach pockets for bacteria to hide in the mouth can create a foul odor.
Tobacco Products- These products contain many substances and chemicals that stick to the tongue and gum tissues of the mouth and can create bad breath. In addition, many tobacco products are directly linked to causing periodontal disease (discussed above) that can also lead to bad breath.
Decay, Infections, and Abscesses- Teeth can sometimes develop cavities or an infection deep inside or underneath a tooth that causes a bad odor. If you develop an odd taste or odor in your mouth, you should contact your dentist. As someone is healing from an oral surgery procedure such as a tooth removal, they may notice a slightly bad odor coming from the area for a short time. Be sure to contact your dentist or oral surgeon if it lasts more than a few days.
Other Health Conditions– Many health conditions are known to cause bad breath. Some of the most common are sinus drainage and infection, certain metabolic disorders, tonsil stones, and chronic reflux of stomach acids as in the case of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Getting Rid of Bad Breath!
Now that we have discussed some common reasons for bad breath, you can try to identify the culprit and address it. Some of these causes of bad breath necessitate a visit to your dentist or health care provider, but there are many things you can do on your own to help prevent bad breath such as:
Practice Good Oral Hygiene– Brush twice per day and floss at least once per day. Here’s a pro tip- BRUSH YOUR TONGUE! Billions of odor-causing bacteria live in the deep crevices on your tongue. Brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper daily will significantly cut down on these levels of bacteria. Use a bacteria-fighting rinse as needed. Rinses such as Listerine can help keep bacteria levels in check. Some of these rinses contain alcohol, which can dry out your mouth, so use alcohol containing rinses only as needed. Keeping up with good oral hygiene is essential to preventing bad breath.
Drink Plenty of Water– When the body is dehydrated, it cannot produce sufficient amounts of saliva to cleanse the mouth and help keep bacteria levels down. Staying hydrated is key to a healthy body and better breath.
Avoid Foods That Cause Bad Breath– As mentioned, the main culprits are usually onions, garlic, and certain spices. If you notice exceptionally bad breath with a certain type of food, you may want to consider a different option or simply plan on additional water consumption and brushing and flossing after your meal to help minimize bad breath.
Avoid Tobacco Products- Avoiding the use of tobacco products will help prevent you from developing gum disease as well as prevent you from being exposed to the harmful odor causing chemicals that are present in tobacco products.
See Your Dentist Regularly- Regular visits to your dentist and dental hygienist can help you avoid many causes of bad breath and help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Reach out to us today if you would like to schedule a visit. We are gladly accepting new patients and we are here to help answer any questions you have!
Dr. Robert Gemmell
Dr. Ty Jaros
Distinctive Dentistry has provided personalized dental care and healthy smiles for over 25 years in Eugene, OR, and the surrounding areas.
Dr. Robert Gemmell received his DMD from Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. He is a current member of the Academy of General Dentistry, the Oregon Dental Association, and the American Dental Association.
Dr. Ty Jaros received his BS from Seattle University and his DDS from the University of Washington. He is a current member of the American Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, and Oregon Dental Association. Dr Jaros is also a SureSmile Aligners Certified Provider.