Bad Breath: More Than Embarrassing!
Bad breath makes people back away. There’s nothing worse than meeting someone new and seeing them cringe slightly when you lean in to shake their hands. Bad breath can also be a warning sign of other health problems. Let’s explore what causes bad breath, when it’s a sign of something bigger as well as some effective home remedies.
What Makes Breath Smell Bad?
Surprise, surprise… Bad breath happens when something in our mouths or throats smells bad. That bad smelling something can bits of last night’s dinner, garlic from today’s lunch, or plaque on the teeth.
From bad breath to death breath…
- Breath goes from bad to worse when teeth aren’t cleaned well or often enough.
- Dry mouth causes really bad breath because there isn’t saliva to rinse the teeth naturally and food and plaque build up.
- Not eating frequently enough (every 3-4 hours) causes bad breath the same way that dry mouth does. When we don’t eat, saliva flow goes down and, ironically, stinky particles build up. If you miss a meal, drink lots of water.
- Tobacco products leave behind smelly molecules and also contribute to dry mouth.
- Various illnesses can also cause bad breath because of the smelly substances they leave in the mouth.
When is Bad Breath a Warning?
Bad breath that doesn’t go away with normal treatments and cleaning is often a sign of an infection or medical condition. Gum disease or periodontal disease causes a particular type of bad smelling breath because of the bacterial mess that builds up under the gums. Acid reflux also causes a distinctive bad breath that isn’t treatable with any basic methods. Bad breath can also be a sign of diabetes, sinus infections, allergies with postnasal drip, tonsilitis, and other throat infections. If bad breath doesn’t go away after trying the suggestions below, then it’s time to see a dentist to find and treat the source of the smell.
Bad Breath Tips and Home Remedies:
Get a Professional Dental Cleaning: Even the best toothbrushing can’t clean everything off of the teeth or out from under the gums. As proof, even dentists need regular dental cleanings. Our toothbrushes leave behind small particles that can only be removed with specialized hygiene instruments and techniques.
Brush Twice a Day & Keep Bad Breath Away: Brushing sweeps away most of the particles that cause bad breath.
Brush Your Tongue: The tongue catches bacteria and food particles just like the teeth and gums do. This change alone makes a big difference for many bad breath sufferers.
Get a Tongue Scraper: There are several different types of tongue scrapers but all of them use a plastic edge or bristles to scrape off the gunk that accumulates on the surface of the tongue.
Avoid or Limit Stinky Foods: If you eat garlic every day, then you may smell like garlic every day. Mixing up your diet to limit or avoid stinky foods can help keep breath from smelling like old leftovers.
Floss Daily: Flossing cleans out tiny pieces of meat and food that are stuck between the teeth and under the gums. When these pieces of food aren’t cleaned out daily, they rot in the mouth and stink. They also feed bacteria in the mouth promoting infections that create a smell of their own.
Keep Your Dentures and Retainers Clean: The particles that cause bad breath aren’t always from our mouths. Bad breath can come from the things we put in our mouths like dentures, partial dentures and retainers. A thorough cleaning before they go into our mouths removes smelly build up and insures fresh breath.
Look Out for Smelly Breath Drinks: Drinks like coffee, beer, whiskey and wine stick to plaque in our mouths and add a whiff of something special to every breath.
Use Xylitol: Bacteria HATE this natural sweetener. By using products that contain xylitol throughout the day, you can help prevent plaque formation and cavities.
Try Natural Breath Fresheners: Mint, cloves, fennel, anise and parsley are all herbs that can either absorb or mask bad odors. In India, people chew fennel seeds after meals to freshen breath. In the Middle East, tea with mint is a post-meal treat that helps with breath as well. Chewing the parsley garnish on the side of your plate helps absorbs some strong odors thanks to the green chlorophyll it contains. Note: Always check the mirror after chewing any herbs to avoid unwelcome additions to your smile!
Treat Dry Mouth: Dry mouth causes bad breath as well as so many other dental problems. Work with your dentist and doctor to treat or manage dry mouth.
Avoid Tobacco Products: Tobacco leaves a lingering smell on the breath that isn’t pleasant. It also causes dry mouth, leading to more bad breath.