From time to time, everyone gets bad breath, or halitosis. But, when the unpleasant scent sticks around, even after brushing and flossing, it can be a sign of a more serious issue. Figuring out what’s behind bad breath is the first step in treating it. You might be able to take care of your breath issues on your own at home. If your halitosis is connected to a condition, such as gum disease, your best bet is to see a dentist for treatment of the condition and the bad breath.
What Causes It
A number of things can be behind your bad breath. In some cases, the unpleasant scent is connected to whatever you had for lunch or dinner. Food bits can get stuck in your teeth or gums, attracting odor-causing bacteria. In some cases, the scent comes not from food that’s in your mouth, but from food that your body is digesting. Certain foods, most notably garlic and onions, release odors as you digest them. The odor compounds travel to your lungs and mix with the air you exhale, giving you unpleasant breath. In some cases, the scent can linger for days, even after you’ve brushed and flossed.
Of course, not having the best oral care routine can also contribute to bad breath. If you don’t floss and brush regularly, bacteria can build up your mouth, releasing an putrid scent when you speak or breathe. Other habits, such as smoking or tobacco use, contribute to bad breath, too. The ingredients in cigarette smoke, such as nicotine and tar, can cling to your teeth, gums and tongue, giving bacteria a surface to hold on to.
Medical conditions can also lead to bad breath. If you’re dealing with dry mouth, for example, you might notice that your breath smells, as there isn’t enough saliva produced to whisk away bacteria or food particles. Bad breath can also be a sign of gum disease, as there is an ample amount of plaque and bacteria in the mouth.
What You Can Do
What you do to treat your bad breath depends on what is behind it. If the odor is related to the foods you eat, such as garlic, cabbage, or cheese, avoiding those foods or limiting the amount you eat can help. Quitting smoking can also help improve the scent of your breath.
Improving your mouth care routine at home can also help when it comes to halitosis. Brush your teeth after every meal, for at least two minutes. Floss at least once a day, or more if you notice that food tends to get stuck between your teeth. If you need a refresher on the best way to brush and floss, ask your dentist for a few pointers.
It’s also important to remember to clean and brush the tongue. Bacteria and food can coat the tongue, contributing to unpleasant breath. You can use your toothbrush to scrape or brush the tongue or invest in a tongue scraper, which is designed to pull the top layer of debris off of the surface of the tongue.
Working with your dentist is also important if you suffer from regular bad breath. Your dentist can detect any problems, such as gum disease, before they become very serious. If you do have gum disease, your dentist might recommend a periodontist to you, who specializes in the care and treatment of gum disease.
What About Gum or Mouthwash?
Typically, chewing sugarless gum or using mouthwash will give you minty fresh breath. But, gum and mouthwash usually only cover up bad breath. They don’t get to the root of the issue. It’s okay to chew gum (as long as it is sugar-free) or swish with mouthwash as a preventative measure or to give your breath that extra boost of freshness. But, neither will help cure halitosis in the long run and can actually keep you from getting the treatment you need to get the bottom of the problem.
If you are concerned about bad breath and think it might be related to untreated gum disease, seeing a periodontist for diagnosis and treatment is a must. In the Miami area, Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas specialize in the care and treatment of periodontal disease. They can help you get your breath and your smile back. To schedule an appointment with the periodontists, call (305) 447-1447 today.