How this may help.
Bad breath is one of those nuisances that always seems to pop up at the most inconvenient times. And with most of us wearing masks right now, many people are picking up more on their bad breath issues. And the first step to getting rid of bad breath (halitosis)? Understanding the causes of bad breath.
1. You have poor oral hygiene.
Poor oral hygiene leads to plaque buildup, and can calcify over time, leading to calculus, or more commonly known as tartar. This perpetuates the cycle of buildup and can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease.
2. You have low saliva flow.
Saliva acts as the mouth’s immune system, by helping keep bacteria levels low. So, if you have low saliva, it can allow bacteria to flourish, which leads to bad breath (amongst other issues like decay, gingivitis, and periodontal disease).
Not producing enough saliva is often caused by prescription medications, over-the-counter allergy medicines, as well as chemo/radiation treatments.
How to get rid of it: Drink plenty of water, and use a prescription toothpaste with added calcium or fluoride and/or a dry mouth gel frequently. You can also chew sugar-free gum containing xylitol and pop dry mouth tablets (XyliMelts) to stimulate saliva flow. In more extreme cases, you may want to ask your dentist about prescription pilocarpine, which also helps increase saliva flow.
3. You eat an acidic diet.
An acidic diet can cause acid reflux, which is a main cause of bad breath. Symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, burping, nausea, and having a bitter taste in the mouth (among others).
How to get rid of it: If you deal with acid reflux and also notice bad breath, it’s worth talking to your physician about prescription antacid medicine to minimize the regurgitation of acid into the mouth. You may also want to keep a food log to identify acidic foods that may be causing or worsening reflux and make dietary tweaks accordingly with the help of a professional.
4. You aren’t consistent with professional dental care.
You know, you know: You need to actually get to the dentist regularly to keep your mouth healthy. But also, doing so keeps bad breath at bay.
How to get rid of it: Get a professional cleaning every three to six months to help ensure that your gums and teeth are healthy, with no decay or signs of periodontal disease. Noted.
5. You have cavities or an infection.
Cavities and dental infections are generally caused by bacteria overgrowth in your mouth. And, That bacteria secrets byproducts—a common culprit being sulfur—that cause malodor.
6. You have dry mouth.
Xerostomia, or dry mouth, causes a decrease in saliva production and keeping your mouth moist with saliva is vital in keeping bad breath at bay. Saliva is necessary in washing away bacteria from your mouth.
How to get rid of it: Drinking lots of water and staying hydrated is essential when it comes to preventing dry mouth, says Young. Over-the-counter products that contain xylitol can help with bouts of dry mouth. For chronic dry mouth, your dentist or health care provider may prescribe an oral medication that can help stimulate the flow of your saliva.
7. You have old dental work.
Having dental work that’s overdue for an update or poor-quality restorations can leave your breath smelling not so fresh. Old fillings can wear out, letting harmful bacteria seep into the tooth, causing infection. Similarly, old crowns can crack, leaving openings for bacteria to creep in and cause cavities and infection in the underlying tooth.
Low-quality restorations, such as porcelain-fused to metal crowns, can oxidize over time, breaking down from bacteria and acids, causing bad odors as well.
How to get rid of it: Make sure your dentist uses high-quality materials and state-of-the-art techniques in placing your restorations to ensure they don’t fail leading to bad breath. And if you have, say, a crown or filling that needs to be replaced, don’t wait on it.
8. You’re not flossing.
Without removing the plaque between the teeth and in the gum pocket, you are allowing bacteria to grow. Just like the dirty dishes you forgot to clean before you went to bed, by the morning there will be a smell. This is the bacteria that is growing, releasing sulfur.
How to get rid of it: Flossing before bed is a necessary part of your nighttime routine. Don’t skip it!
9. You’re on the keto diet.
Followers of the ketogenic diet can find themselves suffering from what’s known as ‘keto breath,’ which is caused by the increased level of acetones in their body.
How to get rid of it: Drink plenty of water and try sugar-free gum or mints with xylitol.
10. You have an underlying medical issue.
Chronic tonsillitis, nasal and sinus infections, as well as other disorder such as gastric reflux can result in bad breath. Small stones in the tonsils, post-nasal drip, and chronic sinusitis are sources of bacterial that can result in bad breath.
How to get rid of it: If you can’t seem to get of bad breath with any of the fixes above, it’s time to talk to your doctor to rule out an underlying condition.
Permanent Fixes For Bad Breath
If you struggle with bad breath, taking the following steps can help you get it under control.