Bad Breath: More Than Embarrassing!
Bad breath, also called halitosis, makes people back away. There’s nothing worse than meeting someone new and seeing them cringe slightly when you lean in to shake their hands. Halitosis can also be a warning sign of other health problems. Let’s explore what causes bad breath, when it’s a sign of something bigger as well as some effective home remedies.
What Makes Breath Smell Bad?
Surprise, surprise! Halitosis happens when something in our mouths or throats smells bad. And that bad smelling something can bits of last night’s dinner, garlic from today’s lunch, or plaque on the teeth.
From bad breath to death breath…
- Most importantly, breath goes from bad to worse when teeth aren’t cleaned well or often enough.
- In addition, dry mouth causes stinky breath because there isn’t enough saliva to rinse the teeth naturally. Consequently, bad smelling food and plaque build up in the mouth.
- Not eating frequently enough (every 3-4 hours) causes bad breath the same way that dry mouth does. In fact, when we don’t eat, saliva flow goes down and, ironically, stinky particles build up. If you miss a meal, drink lots of water.
- Tobacco products leave behind smelly molecules and also contribute to dry mouth.
- Various illnesses can also cause bad breath because of the smelly substances they leave in the mouth.
When is Bad Breath a Warning?
Halitosis that doesn’t go away with normal treatments and cleaning is often a sign of an infection or medical condition. For example, gum disease (periodontal disease) causes a particular type of bad smelling breath because of the bacterial mess that builds up under the gums. In addition, gastric acid reflux also causes a distinctive bad breath that isn’t treatable with any basic methods. Furthermore, halitosis can also be a sign of diabetes, sinus infections, allergies with postnasal drip, tonsilitis, and other throat infections. If bad breath doesn’t go away after trying the suggestions below, then it’s time to see a dentist to find and treat the source of the smell. (Read more about Bad Breath.)
Halitosis Tips and Home Remedies:
1. Get a Professional Dental Cleaning
Even the best toothbrushing can’t clean everything off of the teeth or out from under the gums. As proof, even dentists need regular dental cleanings. Our toothbrushes leave behind small particles that can only be removed with specialized hygiene instruments and techniques.
2. Brush Twice a Day & Keep Bad Breath Away
Brushing sweeps away most of the particles that cause bad breath.
3. Brush Your Tongue
The tongue catches bacteria and food particles just like the teeth and gums do. Therefore, this one simple change makes a big difference for many bad breath sufferers.
4. Get a Tongue Scraper
There are several different types of tongue scrapers, but all of them use a plastic edge or bristles to scrape off the gunk that accumulates on the surface of the tongue.
5. Avoid or Limit Stinky Foods
If you eat garlic every day, then you may smell like garlic every day. Mixing up your diet to limit or avoid stinky foods can help keep breath from smelling like old leftovers.
6. Floss Daily
Flossing cleans out tiny pieces of meat and food that are stuck between the teeth and under the gums. When these pieces of food aren’t cleaned out daily, they rot in the mouth and stink. In addition, these food particles also feed bacteria in the mouth. And feeding bacteria promotes infections that create new bad smells of their own.
7. Keep Your Dentures and Retainers Clean
The particles that cause bad breath aren’t always from our mouths. In fact, bad breath comes from the things we put in our mouths too. For instance things like dentures, partial dentures and retainers can cause bad breath. A thorough cleaning before they go into our mouths removes smelly build up and insures fresh breath.
8. Look Out for Smelly Breath Drinks
Drinks like coffee, beer, whiskey and wine stick to plaque in our mouths and add a whiff of something special to every breath.
9. Use Xylitol
Bacteria HATE this natural sweetener. By using products that contain xylitol throughout the day, you can help prevent plaque formation and cavities.
10. Try Natural Breath Fresheners
Mint, cloves, fennel, anise and parsley are all herbs that can either absorb or mask bad odors. In India, people chew fennel seeds after meals to freshen breath. In the Middle East, tea with mint is a post-meal treat that helps with breath as well. Chewing the parsley garnish on the side of your plate helps absorbs some strong odors thanks to the green chlorophyll it contains. Note: Always check the mirror after chewing any herbs to avoid unwelcome additions to your smile!
11. Treat Dry Mouth
Dry mouth causes bad breath in addition to many other dental problems. Work with your dentist and doctor to treat or manage dry mouth.
12. Avoid Tobacco Products
Tobacco leaves a lingering smell on the breath that isn’t pleasant. It also causes dry mouth, leading to more bad breath.