How to Prevent Bad Breath
Bad breath, or halitosis, is one of the most universal dental problems. Nearly everyone suffers from bad breath at least occasionally, and for some, it is a chronic condition.
At Whiteman Dental Associates, Dr. Daniel Whiteman and our team discuss how to prevent bad breath. Preventing bad breath is easier for patients who understand its causes, as well as the general and restorative dentistry services that can improve oral health and address the causes of chronic halitosis. Contact our Boston, MA area practice to schedule an appointment with us.
The Causes of Bad Breath
In most cases, bad breath is caused by one of three factors: the accumulation of plaque and dental bacteria, foods or other substances, or underlying medical conditions.
- Dental bacteria: This is the main cause of halitosis. Bacteria are present in all areas of the mouth, including the teeth, gums, and tongue. Bacteria consume sugars and other carbohydrates left in the mouth after eating. They also release a foul odor. This becomes more pronounced when oral hygiene is lacking. Bad breath also becomes worse when there is dental decay, gum disease, and other infections in the mouth.
- Dental prostheses: Dentures, partial dentures, retainers, bite guards, and other prostheses can contribute to halitosis. They can absorb and harbor bacteria and other organisms, which then give off odors.
- Dry mouth: An overly dry mouth (xerostomia) can also cause bad breath. Saliva naturally cleans the mouth. Xerostomia is caused by certain medications and conditions, and is often seen in older patients.
- Food and drinks: Foods such as fish, onions, garlic, and certain spices are well-known contributors of temporary bad breath. Tobacco and alcohol are also included in this category. Both are notorious for causing breath odor, and their smell can linger for several hours afterward. Smoking has the additional disadvantage of having a strong association with gum disease, which also causes halitosis.
- Underlying medical causes: Bad breath can sometimes result from a medical condition. For example, diabetes and certain types of cancer can cause bad breath. Other systemic conditions, such as liver or kidney failure, can also contribute to bad breath. People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and infections of the tonsils, nose, sinuses, or throat are also known to suffer from halitosis.
Prevention and Treatment of Bad Breath
Patients seeking treatment for halitosis should make an appointment with a dentist. A dentist can perform a dental examination, and perform the necessary treatments to address infection.
To prevent bad breath in the future, you may want to schedule more frequent dental cleanings, do a more thorough job when brushing and flossing, and take time and effort to brush the tongue.
Those who have retainers, dentures, or bite guards should always take them out at night and soak them in a suitable disinfecting solution.
Other ways to improve your breath includes avoiding the use of tobacco and foods known to cause bad breath, such as raw onions and garlic. Drinking plenty of water can help keep the mouth moist and can flush out bacteria.
Many people who suffer from bad breath make it a point to keep mints, chewing gum, breath sweeteners, and mouth rinses available to mask their breath odor while working in close physical proximity with other people. It is important to remember that these should be sugarless, to prevent cavities.
Occasional bad breath may be inevitable, but it can often be minimized with some simple steps that anyone can take. Those with concerns about bad breath should talk to their dentist or dental hygienist during their next dental visit. Contact us online or call us at (617) 731-4746.