August 6th is National Fresh Breath Day. In honor of the day, I will be informing you of what causes bad breath and how to remedy it. The medical term for bad breath is Halitosis, which means chronic bad breath or a condition of the breath. An estimated one in four people suffer from this condition.
Keeping your breath fresh
There are quite a few factors that can lead to chronic bad breath. Dry mouth (xerostomia), certain foods, poor oral hygiene, certain medical conditions, alcohol and tobacco use can all lead to an unpleasant smell or taste in your mouth.
- Dry mouth – Saliva is a natural wash for the mouth, by washing away food, plaque and debris off your teeth and gums every time you swallow. It helps to maintain a healthy pH balance so the mouth does not become too acidic, which can cause a sulfur (egg like) smell. Mouthwashes that contain alcohol can dry out the mouth causing bad breath to worsen. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and use of a natural, alcohol free rinse is best if you suffer from dry mouth. Biotin is great rinse that we recommend use specifically for dry mouth.
- Certain foods – Some foods cause more odors in the mouth than others. Protein-rich foods such as meat, eggs, milk and cheese feed bacteria in the mouth that secrete a foul odor. Sugar fuels the odor causing bacteria, so try to avoid mints and gum with sugar, as they will only make the condition worse. The more common offenders are coffee, garlic, onions and fish. It is still ok to consume these foods just be sure to clean your mouth properly after. Its best to eat a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Xylitol mints and gums are the best kind to use regularly.
- Poor oral hygiene – Plaque, food particles, tooth decay and gum disease can cause unpleasant breath. It is imperative to brush at least 2 times per day, floss before bed, use a tongue scraper to remove plaque and bacteria from the tongue and use an alcohol-free mouth rinse to maintain a clean oral environment. Seeing your dentist every 6 months (more frequently in some cases) for cleanings and exams will allow a dental professional to clean your teeth, check your gum health and evaluate for any tooth decay that needs to be addressed.
- Certain medical conditions – Some odors are caused from medical issues such as sinus infections, infections of the throat or tonsils, intestinal disturbances, kidney and liver disease and even diabetes. Its best to see a Primary Care Physician to rule out any medical conditions that could be leading to bad breath. Your mouth can be a window to your health and give signs of other medical problems.
- Tobacco and Alcohol use – Smoking tobacco leaves smoke particles in the throat and mouth that leaves a foul odor. The chemicals and tar from the tobacco create a toxic environment in the mouth that can last well after brushing and rinsing. These toxins cause a many health issues beyond bad breath, such as bone loss, gum disease and cancer. Alcohol has a drying effect of the mouth causing dehydration that decreases your saliva production. Alcohol use can cause heartburn and acid reflux which can damage the esophagus and cause a bad odor. Its best to not use tobacco and to consume alcohol moderately.
Many people suffer from bad breath and it can cause social anxiety when talking to people closely. I hope this information is helpful, and you are able to use some of the tips to make August 6th -Fresh Breath Day-your freshest day ever!