Bad breath: It’s everyone’s worst nightmare, but it’s (unfortunately) something we’ve all had to deal with at one time or another. For some it’s only temporary, like the kind you get after eating onions or right after you wake up. For others, though, it can be a serious and persistent problem. Officially known as halitosis, chronic bad breath can last for an extended period of time and can actually be a sign of other serious health problems. Whether you suffer from halitosis or just want to know how to prevent it, here’s everything you need to know:

What causes bad breath?

Food particles: Food particles are a major cause of temporary bad breath. Every time you eat, particles of food can get stuck in between your teeth and on your tongue. The foods that have especially strong odors, such as onion and garlic, are the real culprits when it comes to the occasional bad breath everyone experiences.

Poor dental habits: Those food particles will only be a temporary problem as long as you floss and brush your teeth. However, if you fail to do that regularly and consistently, you could end up developing tooth decay or periodontal disease. These bigger dental issues will lead to chronic bad breath.

Dry mouth: When your mouth is dry, it means that you aren’t producing enough saliva. This can cause halitosis because saliva goes a long way to fight bad breath; In addition to helping break down food, saliva rinses bacteria and dead cells out of the mouth, as well as neutralizes acids to prevent cavities and infections. Dry mouth could be a side effect of alcohol and/or tobacco use, medications, too much caffeine, or breathing through the mouth.

Smoking/tobacco: Smoking can cause dry mouth, as previously mentioned, and gum disease. Both encourage halitosis. In addition, smoking itself leaves a bad odor on the breath.

What other health problems are associated with bad breath?

While bad breath is often linked to something in the mouth, it can sometimes be a sign that you have other health problems going on. If you’re having issues with your throat, nose, or sinuses (e.g. bronchitis, a sinus infection, or a cold), your body can develop post nasal drip or extra mucus that can cause bad breath. In other cases, bad breath can indicate a much more serious issue or chronic condition. These include diabetes, kidney or liver problems, or chronic acid reflux.

How can you fix it (or prevent it)?

Drink water. Lots of it. While drinking is just good for your body in general, it also does a lot to prevent bad breath. Water helps stimulate saliva production and keep your mouth moist.

Chew gum. Gum is more of a fix for temporary bad breath. Like water, gum encourages your body to produce saliva, which fights plaque acids. Mint flavor will also help freshen your breath.

Stop smoking. Tobacco causes all kinds of problems for your body, from giving your cancer to staining your teeth and causing bad breath. You’ll reap many benefits if you kick the habit.

Maintain healthy daily dental habits. This is probably one of the most important things you can do to help prevent bad breath. Brush your teeth in the morning and at night, and floss at least once a day. Use a tongue scraper, too, to get rid of bacteria that contributes to bad breath.

Make an appointment with your dentist or doctor. Regular checkups with your dentist can be a preventative measure for bad breath. However, if you’ve kept up with regular visits and practice good oral hygiene and are still having troubles with halitosis, you should consider scheduling an appointment. Your dentist can see if there’s any oral health problems linked to your bad breath. If he or she determines the source isn’t related to oral health, you’ll need to make an appointment with your doctor to see if it’s connected to a medical condition.

We realize that bad breath can be embarrassing, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with regular cleanings, detection of health problems, and proper habits. If you feel like you have issues with halitosis, don’t be afraid to bring it up with your dentist. Artistic Dental has the tools and expertise to help you solve your bad breath. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with us, call (602) 840-5400.