You brush, you floss and still find that your breath isn't as fresh as you want it to be. You are not alone! The American Dental Association reports that 50% of adults report having (or have had) bad breath. Most of the reasons that lead to bad breath are minor, but there can be some more serious causes.
Culprit #1: BACTERIA
Our mouths are full of bacteria. Mouths are wonderful environments: warm, moist, dark, and bits of food debris to snack on. The bacteria eat those food particles and their waste products are foul smelling. Along with brushing and flossing your teeth, you should also be gently brushing your gums and tongue.
Culprit #2: DRY MOUTH
One of the complaints we hear from our older patients is dry mouth. The cause could be as simple as not staying hydrated enough to medications to problems with your salivary glands.
Culprit #3: GUM DISEASE
Gum disease is also called Periodontal Disease. The reason it occurs if because of build-up of bacteria below the gumline. As we learned above, bacteria in the mouth leads to bad odor.
Culprit #4: FOOD
This is an easy one. Coffee, onions, garlic are all things that should be avoided on dates, interviews, and generally if you plan on talking to anyone. There is a long list of foods that can affect the air that you exhale.
Culprit #5: SMOKING & TOBACCO
Besides the other negative health affects, tobacco users reduce your ability to taste food and irritate gum tissue. They are more likely to suffer from gum disease, too.
Culprit #5: MEDICAL CONDITIONS
A cavity that has been left untreated can start to cause bad breath. If your dentist has treated all of your decay, you brush and floss, and you don't smoke, your bad breath could be due to a sinus condition, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. In those cases, you will want to talk to your primary healthcare doctor.
Now that we know of some of the things we should look out for, let's talk about some of the ways we can take care of a smelly situation:
BRUSH & FLOSS: Brush two times a day for two minutes each time. Floss EVERY DAY! When you do not floss you are missing 30+% of tooth surface. That's a lot of food debris and bacteria.
CLEAN YOUR TONGUE: There are many tongue scraper products on the market, but your toothbrush will do a great job. Your tongue should look pink, so if you have a white-brown coating, you should definitely start to increase tongue brushing.
MOUTHWASH: There are so many types of mouthwashes on the market. Mouthwashes can help kill bacteria and minimize odor. However, we recommend a mouthwash that does not have alcohol. Alcohol can be drying (Culprit #2). Mouthwash is a temporary solution, but in a pinch, it will help.
CLEAN YOUR DENTURES: You should be removing your full and partial dentures every night before bed and soaking them. Then, take a soft-bristled brush and brush your gums and dentures like you would your teeth. Do not use toothpaste on your dentures, though. The time out of you mouth allows for your tissues to breath and get some good blood flow.
INCREASE SALIVA PRODUCTION: Eat healthy foods that require more chewing like carrots, celery and apples. Chew sugar-free gum, or suck on a sugar-free candy. You can also try an over-the-counter product like Biotene or XyiliMelts.
QUIT SMOKING: It is just a good idea for your overall health!
VISIT A DENTIST: Having bad breath is embarrassing, and talking about it can be even more so. However, we are here to help! Please talk to your hygienist, Courtney, and Dr. Jones if you are having a problem with bad breath. They will make sure that there is not a more serious issue. If you are doing all the above and still having a problem, please talk to your primary care provider.
Ali Jones, D.D.S. - Dentist