We’ve all been there. On a date, at a job interview, or just talking with friends…suddenly you realize you have awful dragon breath. How did this happen and what can you do about it?
Welcome to your bad breath survival guide.
Poor dental habits are one of the main causes of bad breath. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth daily, food particles can remain in your mouth and cause bacteria to grow. These bacteria leave a foul-smelling waste product behind. Gross!
Obviously the best way to get rid of all that bacteria is to brush and floss daily. You can also use a toothbrush or tongue scraper to clean your tongue…that’s where a lot of bad breath bacteria can be found. Over-the-counter mouthwash will help kill bacteria as well.
Bad breath can also be caused by certain foods and other unhealthy lifestyle habits. Garlic, onions, and coffee are all associated with bad breath. You may be able to cover up the smell of these foods with brushing and mouthwash, but the odor won’t go away completely until they pass through your body. Smoking and tobacco will also affect your breath and put you at risk for other health problems like gum disease.
In some cases, bad breath may be a sign of a more serious health condition. Bad breath that won’t go away or a constant bad taste in your mouth can be a warning sign of gum disease, which is caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth. The medical condition dry mouth can also cause bad breath because your body isn’t producing enough saliva. Saliva is important to help neutralize acids produced by plaque and wash away dead cells that accumulate in your mouth.
Many other diseases and illnesses may cause bad breath including respiratory tract infections, chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, chronic acid reflux, and liver or kidney problems. See your healthcare provider if you suspect any of these conditions.
Here’s a few simple steps to prevent bad breath:
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day and don’t forget to clean the tongue. Use floss to remove food particles between teeth at least once a day and rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash.
- See your dentist at least twice a year. They can provide professional teeth cleaning and determine if you have gum disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may be causing bad breath.
- Stop smoking and chewing tobacco-based products. Giving up this habit is good for your body in many ways. We know it’s not an easy thing to do, but your breath will thank you.
- Keep that saliva flowing. To get more saliva moving in your mouth, drink lots of water and try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candies. You can also try eating healthy foods that require a lot of chewing, like carrots or apples.