Bad breath happens. In fact, polling shows that 50 percent of adults (the ones being honest) admit to having had bad breath, known as halitosis in clinical circles, at some point in their lives. Dr. Bruce Spink of Birmingham, AL wants you to understand the causes of bad breath so you can prevent it and avoid feeling self-conscious.
What Causes Bad Breath?
There are a multitude of reasons you might have bad breath. While most of these causes are more or less harmless, some can indicate something more serious.
Our mouths are full of bacteria that naturally thrive in a dark wet environment such as this. They feed on food particles left behind when we eat. Although these microscopic creatures are harmless to us, their digestive processes leave behind a foul-smelling waste product that causes bad breath.
If your mouth is dry, it may not be getting cleaned enough. Saliva is the mouth’s way of washing out food particles and bacteria. Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications, untreated salivary gland issues or due to breathing through your mouth (which is often due to sinus issues). Drinking 2 liters of water, or eight 8 ounce bottles per day to prevent dehydration is recommended by doctors AND dentists.
Persistent bad breath or a constant bad taste in your mouth can be a warning that you may be suffering from advanced gum disease. Gum disease occurs when sticky cavity-causing plaque is allowed to harden on your teeth, becoming tartar. This tartar irritates the gums, causing them to become infected and inflamed. When this happens, the gums draw away from your teeth, exposing the roots to bacteria and infection.
While it makes sense that gum disease and other mouth infections would lead to bad breath, other medical conditions can also cause it. If your dentist has ruled out other dental or oral health conditions and you brush and floss regularly, your halitosis could be the result of a serious medical issue, such as a sinus condition, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. In this case, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
How Can I Prevent Bad Breath?
Brush and Floss
Brushing and flossing between your teeth twice daily can help you to rid your mouth of bacteria that are causing your bad breath and the food particles they feed upon.
Take Care of Your Tongue
You may notice a white or brown coating at the back of your mouth on your tongue when you stick it out. This is the area of the mouth where most of the bad breath-causing bacteria live. Use your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to remove them from your tongue.
Over-the-counter mouthwashes can kill some of the bacteria or neutralize and temporarily mask bad breath. However, this solution is only temporary. The longer you wait between brushing and flossing, the more likely your breath will be offensive.
Keep Saliva In Your Mouth
Eat healthy foods, like fruit and vegetables, that require a lot of chewing, such as carrots or apples. Chewing stimulates saliva production. You can chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candies to help with this. Also, be sure to stay properly hydrated by drinking at least 2 liters of water per day. Your dentist may also prescribe artificial saliva if these quick fixes do not help.
Schedule Regular Appointments With Your Dentist
If you’re in the Birmingham, AL area and you’re concerned about what might be causing your bad breath, schedule an appointment to see Dr. Spink. Regular check-ups will help Dr. Spink to spot any impending problems such as gum disease or dry mouth and stop them before they become more serious. If your mouth is healthy but you still have bad breath, you may be referred to your primary care doctor for a health examination. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Spink, call (205) 235-5043 or make an appointment online.