No one’s breath smells minty clean all the time, and everyone gets a touch of bad breath on occasion, whether a case of “morning breath,” “garlic breath,” “stale breath” or some other breath malodor. Such cases are generally resolved with time and a bit of oral care through brushing, flossing and mouthwash. Unfortunately, some cases of bad breath can become chronic, which may require more robust measures for effective treatment. While occasional bad breath and its more chronic form—commonly referred to as “halitosis”—may strike most as a rather modest affliction, more than 140 scientists and clinicians from around the world have been researching causes and cures since 1993. The International Society for Breath Odor Research (ISBOR) has held nine international conferences and collectively published numerous studies on halitosis.
Numerous Causes Behind Occasional and Chronic Bad Breath
There are numerous reasons behind bad breath, with food, bacteria, dry mouth and smoking causing occasional bad breath; and cavities, gum disease and other medical conditions usually behind cases of halitosis. A variety of food items, such as garlic, onions and coffee can stimulate bad breath by leaving odorous residue in your mouth that is then breathed out with every exhale. Bacteria causes bad breath because hundreds of varieties naturally live and grow in your mouth, feeding on the food residue, and then producing potentially foul-smelling waste product in return. Dry mouth can lead to bad breath because saliva naturally works to continuously clean out your mouth—limited saliva means less cleaning action. And smoking, well, it kind of explains itself.
Cavities and gum disease result from a build up of odorous bacteria called plaque, which is resistant to removal by brushing and flossing and will thus lead to chronic bad breath. Infections in the mouth can also create hard-to-remove odorous bacteria in the mouth, while other medical conditions, such as pneumonia, sinus infections, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver disease and kidney disease, can also cause halitosis.
Preventing and Fighting Bad Breath at Home
The most important measures you can take to prevent and fight bad breath is to practice traditional good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing between the teeth at least twice a day. Nothing else will do as much to remove potential bad breath causing bacteria from your mouth. Other measures you can take include:
- Brushing or scraping the tongue. Along with gum and teeth, bacteria adhere to the tongue, so dislodge them by gently brushing or scraping the top of your tongue whenever you brush your teeth.
- If you suffer from dry mouth, try to eat healthy foods that stimulate saliva production. Foods such as apples and carrots that require lots of chewing are known to stimulate saliva production, and sugar-free gum and candies may help, as well.
- If you smoke, quitting may prove to be the best thing you can do to improve your daily breath, both odor and intake.
- Those wearing removable dentures should make sure to take them out every night, store them in solution, and clean them thoroughly before re-insertion.
- Mouthwashes can help kill bacteria and also neutralize or cover up mouth odors. Note that it is only a temporary measure and that you get superior results by effective brushing and flossing.
Ask Your Dentist for Tips to Maintain Your Fresh Breath
While ISBOR has yet to come up with a sure-fire, one-size-fits-all cure for bad breath, your dental professional can help you combat occasional bad breath or halitosis. The Island Tower Dentistry team has years of combined experience helping people maintain their oral health and fresh breath. The Marco Island, Florida office can help you discern the causes behind your halitosis, or provide you with tools and tips to fight occasional bad breath. If you would like to see what the team can do for your oral health and breath, contact us today at 239-394-1004 to make an appointment!