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Dental health and bad breath

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Bad breath can be a source of anxiety and social embarrassment. It is especially troublesome since in most cases you can't tell if your breath is bad.

The store shelves are full of products to make your breath "fresh and clean," however most do not address the root causes of bad breath (halitosis).

Certain foods (garlic and onions, for example) contain strong oils that enter your blood stream during digestion. People can smell these oils on your breath. Other foods that may be trapped between your teeth can attract and grow bacteria, which give off an odor.

A mouth with cavities or other dental or gum problems is a breeding ground for the bacteria that can cause bad breath. Your tongue surface can also trap bacteria as do partial or full dentures.

Dry mouth

A dry mouth is another source of bad breath. If you sleep with your mouth open, you will wake up with a dry mouth and bad (morning) breath. A dry mouth can also result from a lowered production of saliva.

Smoking and tobacco use, in addition to its own foul odors, dries out your mouth and promotes bad breath.

Bad breath is most often the result of diet and poor dental hygiene. However, certain conditions and diseases can produce bad breath. For example, diabetes; some problems with your nose and throat, such as sinus infections; and other health problems can cause bad breath. Your dentist may refer you to a medical doctor if disease is a suspected source of bad breath.

The treatment for bad breath is simple in most cases. Your dentist may warn you about eating certain spicy foods, but good dental hygiene is usually the most successful solution.

Brushing after every meal with toothpaste and using a mouth rinse containing antibacterial properties (ask your dental profe​ssion for a recommendation) is an important part of solving bad breath issues.

Regular flossing keeps plaque buildup (and the associated bad breath) to a minimum.

Regular visits to your dental professional for cavities and gum disease treatment are important parts of the solution. If you are having problems with gum disease, your dentist may schedule more frequent professional cleanings (four times per year, for example).

Here are some additional suggestions:

  • Drink plenty of water – Water helps cleanse the mouth, which promotes fresher breath. 

  • Reduce alcohol and coffee consumption.
  • Brush your tongue – Bacteria can collect and grow on the rough surfaces of your tongue. Your dental professional may recommend a tongue scraper, which is more effective than a toothbrush.
  • Promote saliva formation – In addition to drinking extra water, you may want to use sugarless gum or mints to promote saliva formation. This temporary fix masks the problem, however it can help. Your dentist can prescribe artificial saliva for chronic dry mouth.

Avoiding bad breath is another good reason to practice good dental hygiene.​