Bad breath, morning breath, breath odour or halitosis are all terms used to describe a noticeably unpleasant odour exhaled on the breath. Halitosis is not a problem by itself, but it can cause concerns in our interpersonal relationships.
We are all familiar with how the consumption of certain foods such as garlic and onions can affect our breath. This occurs because these foods are absorbed into our bloodstream, where they are transferred to our lungs and exhaled. Fortunately, bad breath caused by the foods we eat is only temporary.
Common Causes of Bad Breath
The truth is, most breath odour comes from food particles trapped in our mouths. When food remains in the mouth, it becomes a breeding ground for the bacteria that can cause bad breath. Other causes can include poor oral health, improper cleaning of dentures, periodontal disease as well as smoking & tobacco products. Bad breath can also be sign of an underlying medical condition of the stomach, lungs and bloodstream.
Another little known situation that can contribute to halitosis is xerostomia (dry mouth). When our mouth is dry, saliva production decreases, leaving the mouth’s natural ability to clean itself impaired. Saliva is the mouth’s natural mouthwash, which contains properties that reduces bacteria in the mouth. Alcohol consumption, certain medications, breathing through the mouth instead of the nose or a salivary gland disorder can contribute to having a dry mouth.
Ways to Fight Against Bad Breath
- Brush your teeth and rinse your mouth thoroughly after every meal to remove food particle from the mouth
- When you are brushing your teeth, also brush your tongue. The tongue is covered with thousands of tiny hairs that can trap bacteria.
- Have regular checkups with your dentist to rule out gum disease and to correct any faulty restorations, overhanging fillings or leaking crowns, all of which can trap food in the mouth.
- Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless lozenges to increase the flow of saliva.
- If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water. Try swooshing it around in your mouth for at least twenty seconds to loosen any food particles the bacteria can feed upon.
- Avoid breath mints and mouthwashes that contain alcohol. Instead of helping, they can make things worse. They only temporarily cover the smell and tend to dry the mouth, creating a more favourable environment for bacteria.
- Snacking on vegetables such as raw celery or carrots can keep plaque from forming.
- If you are going to an important meeting or on a big date, avoid foods that can cause bad breath, such as onions and garlic.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine consumption, which can dry the mouth.
- Quit smoking. Tar and nicotine can build up on the surface of the teeth, tongue and cheeks. It can also dry the mouth and inhibit saliva flow.
- Chlorophyll is a natural breath freshener and is found in leafy green vegetables like parsley.