How to Get Rid of Bad Breath for Good: A Complete Guide to Causes and Prevention
Everyone has morning breath, and while it doesn’t exactly make you feel great when you’ve just woken up, it quickly dissipates with proper brushing, flossing and mouthwash. But in some cases, bad breath can be a consistent problem which is medically known as halitosis.
Halitosis develops from one very simple and common root cause—poor oral hygiene habits, made worse by an unhealthy diet and other lifestyle habits. On top of this, bad breath can also affect confidence and social skills, as the bad odour can turn off people you come in contact with. But the good news is that constant bad breath can be reversed over time and prevented from coming back.
Battling bad breath? That ends now. Follow our oral hygiene guide for getting rid of bad breath once and for all, and enjoy the perks of minty fresh breath:
Everything You Put in Your Mouth Affects Your Breath
The reality is that everything you eat and drink can affect your breath. That’s because food and drink all pass through the mouth where they are broken down for digestion. Foods with strong odours, such as those cooked with lots of garlic and onions, leave a strong aftertaste and smell in the mouth, which can be very unpleasant. For some people, it makes sense to turn to staple oral hygiene habits, such as brushing their teeth or rinsing with mouthwash right after, but in reality, the odour will still linger; that’s because the food needs to fully pass through the body for the odour to be eliminated completely.
A good temporary fix for bad breath caused by food is chewing sugar-free gum. This is especially helpful when you’re dining out and can’t brush your teeth right away. The minty flavour can mask the odour and remove the aftertaste temporarily. Plus, the chewing motion stimulates the production of fresh, odour-free saliva which can help wash away food particles and bacteria. Just make sure to go with the sugar-free kind, though, as sugary foods can cause acid buildup and tooth decay over time.
If you find that you are constantly suffering from bad breath after meals, it helps to keep a log of what you eat. You can go over this list with your dentist so they can also take a look and provide further oral hygiene tips to avoid this embarrassing problem.
Kick Bad Oral Hygiene Habits
We’ve all been there—fallen asleep after a particularly long day or forgot to brush before bed. We’ve all skipped flossing for a day or two, or worse, not flossing at all because we thought that brushing is enough. Unfortunately, the effects of neglected oral hygiene build up over time and cause bad breath.
Without proper oral hygiene, food particles remain in the mouth causing bacteria to grow between teeth, around the gums, and even on the tongue. That’s why it’s important to brush and floss regularly and include the tongue in your cleaning routine. For those who wear dentures, this means taking them out for a thorough cleaning, as odour-causing bacteria can take up residence in the gaps and crevices.
Smoking and Chewing Tobacco Products
With the threat of lung cancer alone, smoking is already a beast in itself. But did you know that aside from this deadly disease, smoking also poses threats to oral health?
Tobacco has already been linked to oral cancer and other complications, but on a day-to-day basis, it causes bad breath to develop. Coupled with stained teeth, gum irritation, and reduced ability to taste foods, the risks of smoking are severe and it’s essential to kick the habit as early as possible.
Staying hydrated is key to good overall health. The recommended 8 to 10 glasses of water daily helps in maintaining good oral hygiene, as it keeps the mouth moist. Dry mouth and lack of fresh saliva can cause bad breath, so make sure to stay hydrated to keep the mouth fresh. Drinking lots of water, especially after meals, also helps to rinse the mouth of food particles and lingering odours, keeping it fresher longer.
Get Gum Disease Treated
Aside from poor oral hygiene and dietary habits, bad breath is a warning sign of gum disease or periodontitis. Gum disease develops due to plaque buildup on teeth, and over time, the bacteria causes toxins to develop that irritate and harm the gums. In severe cases, gum disease damages the gums so badly that it affects the jawbone.
To prevent this from happening, make sure to watch out for bleeding gums. If it’s a recurring problem, book a visit to your dentist right away so it can be properly diagnosed and treated before it worsens.
Get Dental Appliances Refitted
Sometimes, no matter how well you take care of dentures and other dental appliances, bad breath can still develop. This is because the appliances fit poorly inside the mouth. The gaps leave the teeth cavities exposed to bacteria, so make sure to let your orthodontist know about poorly fitting dentures and get them refitted right away.
A Clean Bill of Health
Aside from poor oral hygiene, bad breath can develop as a side effect of other health problems.
For instance, dry mouth, or xerostomia, points to a lack of saliva necessary for neutralizing acids produced by plaque and washing away dead cells on the tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks. Aside from salivary gland problems, dry mouth can also be caused by various medications and breathing problems. While chewing sugar-free gum and staying hydrated can stimulate saliva production, it’s important to let your dentist know about the problem so it can be treated at its root.
Similarly, respiratory tract infections like pneumonia and bronchitis, as well as chronic sinus infections and postnasal drip, chronic acid reflux, and kidney or liver problems can all cause bad breath. If you are suffering from any of these conditions, make sure to let your dentist know, so they can prescribe solutions for chronic bad breath.
Don’t Skip Out on Dental Checkups
Proper at-home oral hygiene habits are your number one defence against bad breath, but it’s not enough. Dentists recommend at least twice-a-year checkups and cleanings so they can conduct a periodic oral exam and give your teeth and gums a deep, professional clean. This also gives them the opportunity to detect early signs of gum disease and underlying oral health issues that cause bad breath before they worsen.