Many people don't know that they have bad breath as it can be hard to detect in yourself. Plus others will shy away rather than tell you as it is social awkward to mention.
Bad breath is also known as halitosis or malodor. It can be embarrassing and tough on people around you.
But wouldn't you rather know and do something about it?
Fortunately, it's a problem which can often be fixed easily. What to do? In brief:
- Practise good oral hygiene
- Pay regular visits to your dentist
- Rule out underlying conditions or other factors (e.g. some medications, diets, and foods) that could affect your breath.
Do You Have Bad Breath?
- Bad breath is often caused by a buildup of bacteria within your mouth which causes inflammation and gives off noxious odours or gases that can smell like sulfur or worse.
- Everybody has bad breath sometimes, especially in the morning.
- Not sure if you have bad breath? The best way to find out is to ask a trusted friend or your partner as it is really hard to tell on your own.
- If you cannot bring yourself to ask then try this if you're not squamish - look at and smell your dental floss after you use it.
- If your floss smells or there is blood on it, then your breath is probably bad.
What Are the Causes of Bad Breath?
There are no hard statistics on what percentage of the population has bad breath as many studies are based on self-reporting which is not a very accurate way to measure.
However, studies show that about 80% of bad breath comes from an oral source. E.g. cavities, gum disease, tonsils that have trapped food particles, cracked fillings, unclean dentures.
Several internal medical conditions can also cause your breath to be affected. Including diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, and chronic bronchitis. Your doctor would need to rule out things like acid reflux, postnasal drip and other causes of chronic dry mouth (xerostomia).
Visit Your Dentist & Take Good Care of Your Teeth and Gums
If you have no underlying medical causes for your bad breath then do make sure to keep your scheduled dental appointments. At least every six months
Good oral hygiene also is key to fighting bad breath. Brush and floss after every meal to help reduce the odor-causing bacteria in your mouth. A regular toothbrush can work but an electric toothbrush has great effects.
Many electric toothbrushes have timers on them which ensure you brush your teeth for an effective length of time (the majority of people do not). Also electric toothbrushes distribute a uniform motion, which can help remove plaque more efficiently than a manual brush.
Some mouthwashes or mouth rinses can also help prevent cavities and reduce bacteria-causing plaque and fight bad breath. Stick to an antiseptic or antibacterial rinse that actually kills bacteria, rather than just a cosmetic rinse which is just for temporary freshening of the breath.
Watch What You Eat
What goes in comes out in different ways. One way is by exhalation. As food is digested, it is absorbed into your bloodstream and then is expelled by your lungs when you breathe.
- Watch your diet. Certain diets such as extreme fasting and very low-carb diets -- can give you bad-smelling breath.
- Consider snacking on raw carrots, celery, or apple slices. Watery vegetables can help clear your mouth of debris.
- Minimise bad breath creators busters such as garlic, onions, and other spicy foods. Especially if you are socialising.
Six Easy Ways to Fix Bad Breath
Practise these and help banish bad breath - perhaps for good.
- Drink water. If you can't brush your teeth after a meal, water can help speed up the process of cleaning harmful bacteria and debris from between your teeth. Avoid sugary drinks.
- Minimise coffee. Tastes great but lingers on the back of your tongue. Try mixing it up with herbal or green tea
- Another reason to quit smoking. Cigarettes, and all forms of smoking are not friends to your breath
- Watch alcohol intake. Alcohol can lead to a very dry mouth and unpleasant breath for up to eight to 10 hours after you finish drinking
- Chew sugarless gum. Doing so 20 minutes after a meal can help with saliva flow.
- Don't binge on breath mints. Sugar-free mints are only a quick fix which mask the offensive smell and don't help to remove the harmful bad bacteria. Sugary mints are even worse as the sugar will sit on your teeth and exacerbate the problem
Still worried? Don't be embarrassed. Just ask your dentist or dental hygienist. They are here to help.