Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common and embarrassing problem. Bad breath can arise from a number of causes. Problems in the mouth are the usual source of bad breath odor. Food breaks down and increases odor-producing bacteria. Smoking and tobacco products damage gum tissue and also produce odor. Lack of saliva and infections in the mouth also cause unpleasant breath odor. Medical conditions and medications can cause dry mouth and inflammation and produce a foul odor.
How to Cure Bad Breath
There are many simple self-care techniques along with help from a dentist or physician can help solve this problem.
1. Practice Good Oral Hygiene
- Brush Teeth after Eating and Drinking. The regular use of a toothbrush along with fluoride toothpaste will help minimize bad breath by killing some of the bacteria in your mouth.
- Floss Your Teeth. Daily flossing will remove food particles trapped between teeth and help control bad breath. Plan to brush after every meal and floss once a day.
- Brush the Tongue. Use your toothbrush or purchase a tongue scraper to cut down bad breath odor.
- Clean Dental Appliances. Bridges, dentures and retainers need to be cleaned every day. To minimize odor, try cleaning before and after putting these appliances in your mouth.
2. Watch What You Eat
- Try Certain Agents. Green tea and cinnamon contain natural antibacterial substances that can help combat bad breath. Mint, cilantro, parsley and basil are effective at hiding bad breath odor and also contain chlorophyll that has additional health benefits.
- Drink Water. Saliva helps combat dry mouth and bad breath. Drink plenty of water but avoid sipping on pop or other sweetened beverages.
- Limit Meat and Low-carb Diet. Meat and low carbohydrate diets can stimulate bad breath. Meat tends to get trapped between teeth and under crowns causing odor as it breaks down. Low carbohydrate diets force the body to use fat as fuel and the result is an unpleasant odor from the process known as ketosis.
- Avoid Stink Foods. Common sense tells us that garlic and onions produce bad breath. Frequent eating cheese and drinking coffee can also trigger bad breath.
- Don’t Rely on Mints. Mints don’t kill bacteria and many contain sugar that will only make the problem worse. Mints only cover up bad breath and do not address the problem. If you use mints, use those that contain Xylitol.
3. Keep Healthy Lifestyle Habits
- Change Toothbrush Regularly. Change your toothbrush every three months or sooner if it begins to fray and show signs of wear. Use a soft bristled toothbrush.
- Quit Smoking. Cigarettes and tobacco cause a host of problems. Tobacco users have higher rates of oral infections and dry mouth, which is notorious for causing bad breath. Quitting smoking is an essential strategy to reduce bad breath and improve health
- See Your Dentist Regularly. Regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential for oral health and can spot problems before they become serious.
4. Seek Medical Treatments
- Toothpastes. Bacteria cause a buildup of plaque on teeth resulting in bad breath. Use toothpaste and a mouth rinse that contains fluoride that kills bacteria and decreases breath odor.
- Mouth Rinses. Your dentist may recommend a mouth rinse with chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium to stop odor production from bacteria. Plaque buildup will also be reduce.
- Dental Disease Treatment. Bacteria cause bad breath, gum disease and cavities. Pockets can form between the teeth and gums resulting in pain, inflammation and increased odor. See your dentist regularly for a professional dental cleaning. You dentist may refer you to a gum disease specialist (periodontist) who has extensive training in treating oral diseases.
When to See a Doctor
If you have visited your dentist and tried all the above and still have bad breath, see your doctor. Certain medical conditions can contribute to bad breath. Any new bumps, lumps or areas that consistently bleed in the mouth require further medical and dental evaluation.