Bad Breath: Causes, Cure and Prevention

Bad breath, called halitosis by doctors, may be a consequence of poor dental hygiene and diet. It may also be a sign of an underlying health problem. You can often get rid of bad breath by simple changes in habits and lifestyle; however, if you suffer from bad breath, you should schedule a dental exam immediately.

Does the Food You Eat Cause Bad Breath?

The first stages of digestion take place in your mouth.  Eating foodstuffs with strong flavors like garlic and onions can lead to bad breath. If you eat too much meat and not enough fruit and vegetables, you may find you have “dog’s breath” even if you brush your teeth often. Bad odors from food won’t go away until digestion is complete. Only 10% to 15% of your diet should be proteins such as meat, poultry and fish. Eating mainly vegetables, grains, and fruit keeps your breath fresher for longer.

Other Causes of Bad Breath

Bacterial growth in particles of food left in your mouth after eating often causes bad breath. Bacteria can grow between your teeth, over your gums, and on your tongue. Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash or salt solution helps reduce bacteria and keep your mouth fresh.

When Might Bad Breath Be a Sign of Illness?

A build-up of plaque on the gums can lead to gum disease and bad breath. Bacterial infestation in the plaque creates toxins which irritate your gums, making them red and sore. If you think you might have gum disease, you should see a doctor, as left unchecked it can cause damage to the jawbone and loss of teeth.

Bad breath may also be a sign of xerostomia. Also known as “dry mouth,” xerostomia is a condition in which your glands don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. Saliva also helps neutralize the acid and wash dead cells off your teeth, tongue, and gums. Increasing acidity and decomposing cells can lead to bad breath.

The Best Ways to Prevent Bad Breath

Other than a change in diet, the best way to avoid bad breath is to practice good dental hygiene. Brush your teeth morning and evening and after each meal. Use fluoride toothpaste. Use a soft brush to clean your tongue and gums. Change your toothbrush often and keep it clean between uses. Clean between your teeth with inter-dental floss to get into all the nooks and crannies and last of all, rinse well with a proprietary mouth wash or warm water and salt.

Visit Your Dentist

Visit your dentist for a check-up every six months. Your dental practitioner will clean and polish your teeth and examine your mouth for any signs of disease or illness. Many serious medical problems such as ulcers and cancer are diagnosed during dental inspections. Your dentist will also advise you about how to support good oral hygiene and banish bad breath.