The first thing you need to know to get rid of bad breath is knowing why it’s happening. There are basically 3 different types of bad breath:
First, there’s the lingering odor of foods that you’ve just eaten. These are pungent aromas, no matter how good your oral care is. When someone’s just eaten garlic or onion, it sticks around for a while. You can mask it pretty well with gum, breath mints, or mouthwash.
Bacteria is to largely to blame for bad breath. When food particles are left behind on your teeth and gums, they turn into plaque, which bacteria feast on and create waste products that smell awful.
Certain medical conditions can also cause bad breath, so if you’re taking care of your oral health and still have bad breath, you should be sure to speak with your doctor about it.
What is Halitosis?
Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath, and if you’ve ever had it, you shouldn’t feel bad. About 1 in 5 people in the general population suffer from it1,and many people who think they have it actually do not.2
The paranoia probably stems from the social stigma people place on those who have bad breath. In some cases, the causes of bad breath are simple and preventable so others are quick to judge, but there are rare exceptions in which someone’s halitosis may actually require medical attention. Knowing what causes bad breath can help identify the difference.
In most cases, bad breath isn’t serious, but if it lasts longer than a few weeks, it may be evidence of a deeper underlying problem.
Here Are 9 Common Causes of Bad Breath:
- Drinking and Eating Certain Foods and Drinks — Certain drinks and foods, particularly coffee, garlic and onions, are notorious for creating bad breath. We love them for their taste, but that taste can linger once it’s absorbed into the bloodstream. Learn more about how to get rid of garlic breath.
- Plaque Buildup —When you don’t brush properly, or often enough, bacteria can form in your mouth, and it’s one of the primary causes of bad breath. This bacteria feeds on the food particles left behind on your teeth and gums and produce waste products that release foul odors. If you have braces, you should take extra care to remove food particles from your mouth to avoid bad breath.
- Infrequent Flossing —When you don’t floss, small particles of food can get stuck between your teeth and around your gums. These are tricky places where toothbrushes can’t quite reach. When food particles are left behind, they start to collect bacteria, which in turn causes bad breath and plaque.
- Tongue Bacteria — Bacterial growth on the tongue accounts for 80‒90 percent of all cases of mouth-related bad breath3.
- Smoking — Your body will thank you for giving up smoking, but your friends will, too. It can lead to serious bad breath and you may not even notice it because you have been accustomed to the smell.
- Dry Mouth — When your mouth is extremely dry, there isn’t enough saliva to wash away food particles and bacteria. Over time, this excess builds up, causing not just an unpleasant smell. Both stress and breathing through your mouth can also be causes of dry mouth, and certain medications have dry mouth as a side effect.
- Morning Breath — Your mouth produces less saliva while you’re sleeping so food particle bacteria multiply faster while you sleep. That’s why bad breath odors are typically worse when you first wake up.
- Infections — If you have an infection in your mouth from a wound, it’s an easy target for bacteria build-up. If you’re having oral surgery (having your wisdom teeth pulled for example), be sure to keep an eye on the infection. A medical professional can prescribe antibiotics to help minimize the infection.
- Medical Conditions — Bad breath can be the result of certain conditions, such as tonsil stones, respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, or liver or kidney ailments. If you suspect that your bad breath may be the result of something chronic, speak to a medical professional.
Now that you know some of the causes of bad breath, let’s talk about its prevention. You can stay one step ahead of bad breath by improving your daily oral hygiene. Here are few of the essential tools to make it happen.
An Electric Toothbrush — An electric toothbrush does a better job of cleaning teeth than a standard brush. We recommend using an Oral-B® Electric Toothbrush to ensure that you are doing your personal best at brushing.
- Toothpaste with Breath Benefits — Brushing twice daily is important, but what you use to brush can make a difference, too. Crest® Complete Multi-Benefit Whitening Plus Scope® Toothpaste combines the freshening power of Scope Mouthwash with the whitening power of Crest.
- Floss — Brushing can’t always reach the tough spots in your mouth, so it’s important to floss daily to avoid cavities and bad breath, too.
- Mouthwash— If you’re looking for the best mouthwash for bad breath, Crest® PRO-HEALTH® Multi-Protection Clean Mint is a great option. Using it after you brush is another great addition to your daily oral care.
- A Tongue Scraper — The rough surface of your tongue is a perfect place for bacteria to form. Some people brush their tongue with a toothbrush, but a scraper can help you get the job done right.
Still have questions about dealing with bad breath? Here’s a little more info about it:
1.Loesche, WJ; Kazor, C (2002). "Microbiology and treatment of halitosis". Periodontology 2000 28: 256–79. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0757.2002.280111.x. PMID 12013345.
2. Harvey-Woodworth, CN (April 2013). "Dimethylsulphidemia: the significance of dimethyl sulphide in extra-oral, blood borne halitosis." British dental journal 214 (7): E20. doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2013.329. PMID 23579164.
3. Baker, Lois. Dental Students Present Research at AADR National Meeting in Dallas. UBDentist (Fall 2008). p. 12