Unless you’ve had the pleasure of living an exceedingly lucky life, you’ve probably come across someone who’s totally unaware of how truly awful their breath smells. In fact, depending on your favorite foods and oral hygiene habits, that person may have been you on more than one occasion. While bad breath is something that everyone can feel self-conscious about, especially right before an important job interview or first date, your West Linn family dentist wants you to know that it’s easy to control and eliminate bad breath.
Unfortunately, determining whether you’re the person in the room suffering from dragon breath isn’t as easy as breathing into a cupped hand and inhaling. To get a truly accurate reading, you need to ask someone you trust to tell you the truth.
In many cases, it’s family, friends, or a significant other that actually brings to an individual’s attention that his or her breath is less than fresh.
If you can’t find someone willing to be your Guinea pig, you can always lick your wrist, wait for it to dry, and then give it a sniff.
Of course, knowing you have bad breath is one thing, but understanding what causes this caustic condition is the first step towards preventing it in the future.
The Causes of Bad Breath
If you’re one of the millions of Americans that suffer from chronic bad breath, what can you do other than buy stock in a breath mints company? Simple. Understand what causes your breath to turn wilting and make any necessary changes.
Bad breath, clinically referred to as halitosis, typically develops due to an overgrowth of oral bacteria. In most cases, this overgrowth is the result of poor oral hygiene habits, such as a failing to brush and floss daily.
Less common but still potential causes also include dry mouth, oral health issues, gastric reflux, tonsil stones, and chronic sinusitis.
Of these underlying health conditions, dry mouth is the most likely to cause chronic bad breath. When the mouth is unable to produce an adequate amount of saliva, foul smelling bacteria begins to buildup.
Patients who take certain types of medications that cause dry mouth as a symptom- such as those to treat depression, anxiety, and pain – those with diabetes, and certain those with types of autoimmune disorders are also more likely to develop dry mouth and more frequent cases of bad breath.
While your health can certainly play a role in whether your breath smells like a daisy or a dumpster, your diet also matters.
If your typical lunch order includes a liverwurst and onion sandwich with a side of pickled garlic, you shouldn’t be surprised if your afternoon meeting gets rescheduled as a conference call.
Foods that have a strong odor like onions and garlic can cause bad breath. Unfortunately, popping a mint will only mask the problem. Until your body completely digests and processes your lunch odor, your breath will continue to stink with incrimination.
Additionally, if you have a habit of ordering spicy foods that cause indigestion later, acid reflux also contributes to bad breath. While effective at breaking down the foods we eat, stomach acid does not possess the most wonderfully fragrant aroma.
Treating Bad Breath
The most effective and obvious way to treat chronic bad breath is by practicing quality oral hygiene at home.
Brushing twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride – including the tongue and insides of your cheek – and flossing daily remain the most effective way to remove foul smelling bacteria from your mouth.
The tongue is a likely and often overlooked source of sour smells. If your tongue is whitish in color, it contains trapped bacteria that negatively contributes to your breath’s odor. To remove this bacteria, thoroughly scrub your tongue while brushing or use a tongue scrapper to ensure a clean palette.
Finally, if your breath continues to smell no matter what tricks you try, you may be suffering from an underlying health condition. Schedule an appointment with your West Linn family dentist at Roane Family Dental to have your oral and overall health assessed.